Vitamin E is one of the unsung heroes in bone health.
Because vitamin E displays unique fat-soluble antioxidant activity, making it indispensable for protecting your cells and mitigating oxidative stress. Simply put, the far-reaching benefits of this nutrient impact every system in your body.
Vitamin E For Bone Health
Vitamin D is famously known for its bone-health benefits, but did you know that vitamin E also plays a crucial role in keeping your bones healthy and strong?
In a 2018 study, postmenopausal women receiving vitamin E at either 300 mg/day or 600 mg/day saw significant improvements in their bone remodeling in just 12 weeks. Both doses led to decreased bone resorption (bone breakdown) and improved bone building, with a 100% increase in the BALP/NTX ratio – an important marker for bone remodeling .
How did vitamin E make such a profound impact on these women’s bone health? This is where the powerful antioxidant capacity of vitamin E comes in.
For some background, if you’re unaware, oxidative stress is one of the harmful processes that impact bone loss due to an increase of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Although a certain amount of ROS and oxidative stress is normal, when this process becomes imbalanced, it can create shifts in your bone remodeling pathways that set the stage for bone loss.
Specifically, high levels of ROS promote the synthesis of osteoclast cells, which are the cells responsible for breaking down your bone. At the same time, ROS promotes the destruction of osteoblast cells, the cells responsible for bone building. As you might imagine, this double whammy means that with high levels of oxidative stress, bone loss goes into overdrive .
That is, unless you have a potent antioxidant to come in and set things straight. Enter vitamin E.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E not only directly protects your cells from ROS but also impacts other cellular pathways that affect bone turnover.
Specifically, due to its antioxidant activity, vitamin E is able to inhibit two molecules; macrophage colony-stimulating factor (M-CSF) and RANKL. These two molecules are responsible for increasing bone turnover, and decreasing bone rebuilding. Therefore, by inhibiting their activity, vitamin E reduces the bone-destructive impact of oxidative stress .
In the study, along with improved bone remodeling, the women also showed reduced levels of the RANKL/OPG ratio – indicating that vitamin E was doing its job and shutting down that bone-destructive pathway.
- Decreasing bone turnover rate
- Increasing bone formation (even at a genetic level)
- Maintaining bone strength
- Restoring calcium levels
- Preventing the development of osteoporosis
Other Vitamin E Benefits
While vitamin E is a critical nutrient for bone health, that’s certainly not where the benefits of this vitamin end. Let’s explore some of the other ways that vitamin E supports overall health.
As mentioned, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. And not just any type of antioxidant – but a fat-soluble one. What does that mean?
As a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E works on the outer layer of your cells (cellular membrane) to protect the inner workings against oxidative threats. In this way, you can think of it as one of your first lines of cellular defense.
While some levels of oxidative stress are normal for your body, when this process gets out of control, it can cause damage to every single system. Some of the harmful effects of excessive oxidative stress include :
- Neurological damage
- Accelerated aging
- Increased inflammation
- Destruction of cellular structures such as DNA, membrane proteins, and more
- Respiratory damage
- Cardiovascular damage
- And much more
Inflammation and oxidation often go hand-in-hand, working together to respond to immune threats – but often creating more harm than good (when left unchecked).
Vitamin E not only helps to mitigate oxidative stress in your body, but studies show that it also has a profound impact on your inflammatory response. In fact, numerous studies show that vitamin E supplementation can have a significant effect on a marker known as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), which is one of the most notable markers for inflammation .
Inflammation and oxidative stress play leading roles in heart disease, which is why vitamin E and other antioxidant compounds can be so impactful in protecting your heart for the long term.
That said, in addition to the general anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity of vitamin E, this nutrient may also provide more heart-health-specific benefits.
For example, research shows that vitamin E may directly impact blood lipid levels, which have a profound effect on atherosclerotic plaque formation.
In one study, four weeks of vitamin E supplementation resulted in a 15% reduction in total cholesterol, 18% in LDL cholesterol, and 14% in triglycerides. In another study, 60 days of vitamin E supplementation decreased lipid levels by 23%, total cholesterol by 30%, and LDL-cholesterol by 42% .
As you’ve learned, vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant, which means that it protects the outer layer of your cells. Well, if you zoom out a bit and think of your skin (which is made up of trillions of cells), it becomes pretty obvious how vitamin E can promote healthier skin.
By acting as an antioxidant, vitamin E can counter the oxidative damage your skin encounters due to environmental factors, including UV rays from the sun. In fact, tocotrienols (a type of vitamin E) have a natural SPF of 5.5, which means they actively reduce the amount of radiation that your skin picks up from sunlight .
Animal studies show that vitamin E supplementation not only helps protect against inflammatory injury but also helps the skin regenerate .
And, of course, beyond the aesthetic appeal of healthier-looking skin, vitamin E also helps to ensure that your skin is doing its functional job – which is to protect you from injury or infection .
Vitamin E may play a critical role in eye health by mitigating the formation of cataracts that come with age. Cataracts are an incredibly common eye condition, impacting over half of the American public aged 80 or older .
As you age, the proteins in your eye start to break down and clump together, which results in a cloudy area (known as a cataract) on your lens.
Vitamin E, which is naturally present in the lens of your eye, may help combat the formation of cataracts by inhibiting the oxidative stress that leads to clumping in the first place .
What Are Good Food Sources of Vitamin E?
You can find vitamin E in various foods, with some of the most common and abundant sources including :
- Sunflower seeds
- Peanut butter
While you can get a fair amount of vitamin E through your diet, research shows that in most cases, Americans aren’t reaching the RDA through food alone. For this reason, the best way to ensure that your body is receiving the vitamin E it needs for optimal health is by taking a high-quality supplement .
How To Ensure You’re Getting The Right Forms Of Vitamin E
When it comes to vitamin E, it’s not just about getting enough of this nutrient, but rather getting enough of the right forms of this nutrient. Vitamin E actually comes in eight different isoforms, divided into two categories; tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Alpha-tocopherol is the most common form you’ll find in supplements and is known for its ability to neutralize reactive oxygen species. On the other hand, gamma-tocopherol is known for its ability to neutralize reactive nitrogen species.
Although tocopherols are more popular than tocotrienols in the supplement world, emerging research shows that tocotrienols are actually much more effective as antioxidants. How much more effective? One animal study showed that tocotrienols possessed 50 times higher antioxidant activity than tocopherols – which is a pretty significant difference when it comes to protecting your cell membranes .
Furthermore, alpha-tocopherol on its own may be detrimental to bone health as this form of vitamin E needs to be in balance with the other isoforms (for example, when alpha-tocopherol outweighs gamma, it could lead to increased levels of inflammation) .
This delicate balancing act is precisely why choosing the right vitamin E supplement is so crucial. Carefully formulated vitamin E supplements will include a balance of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols to offer you optimal support.
Vitamin E is a unique and powerful nutrient that every single cell in your body relies on for protection against oxidative stress. Like most things in life, however, not all vitamin E is created equally. In nature, we find a balance of this nutrient in eight different isoforms. In most supplements, however, we only find one or two forms – primarily tocopherols.
If you’re looking for a way to include a more balanced ratio of this fat-soluble vitamin in your diet, we’ve got you covered with our D3 Complete supplement which includes a balance of mixed tocopherols, along with tocotrienols to cover all of your bases.
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Can I take vitamin D and E together?
Yes, taking vitamin E and vitamin D together, particularly with a meal that includes fat, is a helpful way to ensure you’re receiving adequate levels of these fat-soluble nutrients.
Is it safe to take vitamin E every day?
Yes, it’s safe to take vitamin E every day as long as you’re staying within the upper limit for supplemental vitamin E, which is 1,000 mg/day.
Is vitamin E good for bone health?
Vitamin E is important in regulating the bone remodeling process, ensuring that your bones maintain an equilibrium between bone breakdown and bone renewal.
What are four benefits of vitamin E?
Vitamin E displays antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity and is essential for bone, heart, eye, and skin health.