Vitamin E has gained popularity recently. The association between vitamin E and skin health is a key reason for its popularity.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient. Both plant and animal sources are available:
Animal sources: fish and oysters, dairy products like butter and cheese, Plant sources: vegetable oils, nuts and seeds, and green vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
There are 8 different chemical forms of vitamin E found.
All of these have varied effects on the body. Out of these, alpha-tocopherol (α-tocopherol) is the most active form while gamma-tocopherol (γ-tocopherol) is the most common form found in foods consumed by North Americans.
Here are some of the significant functions of vitamin E:
Vitamin E as an antioxidant
Vitamin E is a proven anti-oxidant (substances that prevent oxidation). It helps prevent cell damage from free-radicals.
Free radicals are active molecules in the body that can harm the cells in the body and prevent the cells from staying healthy.
Free-radical damage is the most common reason for skin problems including aging of the skin, development of wrinkles, fine lines, and dark spots, and skin becoming loose and saggy.
Vitamin E in both dietary forms and topical forms (external application in the form of creams, gels, and serums) is beneficial for healthy skin.
Vitamin E and immunity - Vitamin E helps improve immune response and provide protection against various infections by keeping the immune cells healthy.
Vitamin E and lifestyle risks - Lifestyle risks like smoking, drinking, and UV exposure can harm the cells in the body. Vitamin E provides protection against these.
Vitamin E and degenerative diseases - Many studies have shown that taking the recommended amounts of vitamin E reduces the risk of developing diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, and coronary heart diseases. These promising early results are being further investigated.
The early 1900s was the time when some of the initial vitamins like vitamin A, B, C, and D were discovered. Scientists and biochemists were involved in intense research identifying what else these vitamins could and couldn’t do.
Herbert McLean Evans and Katherine Bishop were anatomists experimenting with rats at the University of California. They fed rats only milk and studied how the rats were progressing. While they found that the rats were growing healthier, they were not reproducing!
They tried modifying the diet and included some starch and animal fats. The female rats became pregnant but were unable to carry the pregnancy to full term.
That’s when they introduced lettuce as a part of the diet. Now they found that the rats got pregnant and delivered healthy babies.
It was then recorded that healthy and natural sources of food were important for fertility. A particular nutrient was extracted from lettuce and was named vitamin E in 1922.
Since the nutrient was related to fertility in rats, it was given a Greek name ‘Tocopherol’. In Greek, ‘toco’ meant birth, ‘pher’ meant carrying, and ‘ol’ referred to it being a chemical.
Upon consuming vitamin E rich foods or vitamin E supplements, it is absorbed in the body like any regular fat source that you eat. Vitamin E is absorbed by the small intestine and from here, it reaches the blood and is circulated around.
The liver absorbs most of the vitamin E from the blood. You should know that the liver only acts on alpha-tocopherol and converts it into a form that is usable by the cells in the body. All other types of vitamin E are sent (excreted) out.
The converted form of alpha-tocopherol is now sent out to the blood and reaches all the tissues and cells.
Excess vitamin E is stored in the adipose tissues (fat-storing tissues present in several locations in the body) just like how normal fat is stored and is used when needed.
The use of vitamin E in the cosmetics and skincare industry has become quite common. Every product in the market seems to have added vitamin E to it.
Are all of these actually beneficial?
No, says research.
Vitamin E needs to remain stable to be useful for your skin. Most generic skincare products use unstable vitamin E forms that get destroyed as soon as you expose the product to light and air.
Hence the products you religiously use may do nothing to your skin.
The next time you buy a vitamin E-enriched product, make sure the base nutrient used is an ester form of vitamin E (a type of compound produced from acids) that is more stable and is also easily absorbed by the skin.
You cannot get vitamin E toxicity by just consuming foods rich in vitamin E. You get it only when you consume excess supplements. Here is a list of maximum levels of vitamin E that your body can handle safely.
Vitamin E toxicity can lead to internal and external blood loss (hemorrhage). When you consume excess vitamin E supplements for a longer duration, the side effects get worse.
For normal healthy individuals, vitamin E deficiency is quite rare. These individuals can easily get their recommended values only from regular food that they eat.
If a person gets vitamin E deficient because of certain genetic and non-genetic reasons mentioned below, it can result in:
Genetically, few people can have higher levels of vitamin E in the body and a few others can have lower levels. You will have to plan your vitamin E intake based on your genetic design.
APOA5 gene - The APOA5 gene is responsible for producing (encoding) the Apolipoprotein A-V protein. This is important for transporting fats including vitamin E. There are two SNPs of this gene that alter the vitamin E needs in the body.
CYP4F2 gene - The CYP4F2 gene produces the CYP4F2 enzyme. This helps in breaking down vitamin E. A particular allele of the gene is known to result in higher levels of vitamin E in the body.
TTPA gene - The TTPA gene helps produce the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein. This helps in transferring vitamin E in the body. Few mutations of the TTPA gene can cause Ataxia with Vitamin E Deficiency (AVED). AVED is another very rare inherited disorder that can lead to vitamin E deficiency.
Here, the transfer protein required to process vitamin E into cell-usable forms is absent or doesn’t function right. AVED results in vitamin E deficiency and individuals with these mutations are likely to require more vitamin E than recommended levels.
MTTP gene - The MTTP gene is responsible for producing a particular type of protein called microsomal triglyceride. This protein, in turn, helps produce beta lipoproteins. Beta lipoproteins carry fats in the food you eat from the intestine to the blood. These also carry fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E.
There are about 60 different mutations of the MTTP gene that cause a condition called abetalipoproteinemia.This is a very rare inherited disease that hinders dietary fat absorption in the body.
People with abetalipoproteinemia are likely to require more vitamin E levels. They will need large doses of vitamin E supplements (5-10 grams a day) to prevent getting vitamin E deficient.
Well, you’ve heard it umpteen times that you are what you eat. You are probably gearing up already to redesign your food chart to throw in a few healthy choices based on nutritionists' recommendations.
In that case, you must be familiar with the term “antioxidants” – the magical word in the lexicon of health and nutrition that has become a synonym of power-houses of nutrients.
After all, who wouldn’t want to look perennially young, be energetic, and free of ailments! Though such a proposition may sound a fantastic probability, you can turn it into a possibility by opting for a sensible diet plan that includes foods rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals in foods that help to counter the detrimental effects of oxygen free radicals, which form during normal metabolism.
External factors like pollution, ultra-violet radiation, and X-rays also produce free radicals that affect our system. Free radicals are deprived of oxygen and are responsible for the development of serious ailments, including cancer and heart disease.
Antioxidants convert the free radicals into harmless waste products that are eliminated from the body before any damage is done to the body. Thus, antioxidants act as scavengers that rid our body of free radicals that cause serious metabolic disorders by damaging the tissues and cells.
Plants are one of the primary sources of antioxidants.
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, cereals, and seeds are foods that are naturally rich in antioxidants.
The best way to ensure adequate intake of the antioxidants is to consume a variety of fruits and vegetables through a diet consisting of 5 to 8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Fruits and vegetables can help guard against heart disease, cancers, and the effects of radiation, pollution, and aging.
Pomegranate, grape, orange, pineapple, plum, apple, and guava are some of the fruits that have the highest concentration of antioxidants.
In addition to being deliciously sweet, berries such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are rich in antioxidants.
These berries are rich in proanthocyanidins - the antioxidants that can help prevent cancer and heart disease as well.
Broccoli, cabbage, carrots, spinach, lemon, ginger, peppers, parsley, kale, red beets, and tomato are vegetables rich in antioxidants.
Broccoli, a cruciferous vegetable, is one of the best antioxidants. It contains more vitamin C than an orange and has more calcium than a glass of milk.
In addition to minerals and vitamins, broccoli is filled with disease-fighting chemicals called phytonutrients.
Sulforaphane, a phytonutrient found in broccoli, has been shown to lower the risk of many types of cancers.
Tomato is the richest source of a powerful anticancer agent called lycopene.
Broad beans, pinto beans, soybeans are some of the best antioxidant foods.
Barley, millet, oats, corn are cereals rich in antioxidants.
Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts, groundnut or peanut and, sunflower seeds contain a good amount of antioxidants.
Garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and oregano are antioxidant spices.
It also has been used as a natural antibiotic to kill off some strains of harmful bacteria.
Garlic is also useful for decreasing blood pressure and cholesterol, removing heavy metals from the body, preventing cancer, and acting as an antifungal and antiviral agent.
One clove of garlic contains vitamins A, B, and C, selenium, iodine, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.
Green tea contains high concentrations of catechin polyphenols. It is also a powerful antioxidant and is very effective against cancer, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
Vitamin A includes carotenoids and retinol.
They are essential for healthy eyes and prevent macular degeneration or age-related blindness.
The antioxidant in vitamin A neutralizes free radicals and boosts your immunity.
Beta-carotene, which is sometimes called provitamin A, can be found in fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, broccoli, guavas, carrots, pumpkins, apricots, and all green leafy vegetables.
All B vitamins are essential to a woman’s health.
They are essential for brain functioning, red blood cell formation, and DNA building. The important B vitamins are:
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, serves as an antioxidant that facilitates wound healing.
It helps in the formation of collagen, which is essential for the wounds to heal.
It also helps in the production of new red blood cells, which deliver oxygen to your brain and to the other cells of your body.
Vitamin C is present in citrus fruits, grapefruits, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi, oranges, and broccoli.
Also called cholecalciferol, this vitamin functions as a hormone and regulates bone homeostasis, together with calcium.
It is an important vitamin for women as it maintains strong and healthy bones.
A deficiency of this vitamin can cause you to have osteoporosis.
Exposure to sunlight helps your body produce vitamin D.
The dietary sources of vitamin D are eggs, fish, and vitamin-fortified products like milk.
Vitamin E or tocopherol acts as an antioxidant that aids in the production of red blood cells and the maintenance of the integrity of cellular membranes.
It also helps to slow age-related changes in the body.
Sources of this vitamin include nuts and nut products, wheat germ, cod liver oil, corn oil, and safflower oil.
In reality, eating healthy is never a cumbersome task. It all starts with a simple step of ringing in variety to your table.
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PON1 gene in humans is located on the long arm of chromosome 7.
This gene was the first discovered gene of the paraoxonase multigene family along with the PON2 and PON3 genes.
The PON1 gene codes for the enzyme serum paraoxonase/arylesterase 1 or PON1 that has esterase and paraoxonase activity.
The PON1 enzyme is composed of 354 amino acids and is synthesized by the liver.
PON1 associates itself with High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) in the circulation.
The PON1 gene shows many polymorphisms in the coding and promoting regions.
Polymorphisms in the PON1 gene have an association with coronary artery disease and diabetic retinopathy.
PON1 plays a major role in oxidative stress and inflammatory response by virtue of its association with HDL cholesterol in the body.
HDL facilitates the secretion of the PON1 enzyme, which in turn prevents the oxidation of HDL and stimulates cholesterol efflux from the cells.
These together offer an atheroprotective function to HDL.
As the name goes, these substances and compounds inhibit oxidation in the body.
Antioxidants are natural compounds that help neutralize free radicals in our bodies.
Free radicals are substances whose elevated levels can be harmful to the body.
The elevated levels have an association with diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and aging.
Our body cells constantly produce free radicals as a reaction to internal body and environmental pressures and stresses.
The cells in our body are responsible for the production of these free radicals.
These are unstable molecules, and thus can cause slow cell damage.
Since these free radicals are reactive oxygen species, the antioxidants naturally counter them.
Antioxidants are neutralizers of these free radicals and can be obtained by consuming foods that are rich in them.
In individuals who are healthy and disease-free, there is a balance of antioxidants that counter the effects of the reactive free radicals.
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SNP rs854560 is a polymorphism that is present on the PON1 gene associated with antioxidant needs.
The variants of this SNP affect levels of the PON1 enzyme and have an association with coronary diseases and diabetes. The T allele is the more favorable form of the SNP and codes for methionine, which leads too elevated levels of paraoxonase.
This is beneficial to the body.
However, the A allele codes for leucine; this leads to reduced paraoxonase activity, which is harmful to the body.
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SNP rs662, also called as Q192R is a polymorphism of the PON1 gene.
The C allele codes for arginine, whereas the less common T allele codes for glutamine.
The presence of the TT allele can imply lower or decreased levels of PON1 enzyme activity. Higher the PON1 enzyme activity, the lower is the risk for heart disease.
The TT allele also increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 2.3x and also increased the risk of vascular dementia, kidney disease, ischaemic heart disease, and male infertility.
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