Why there’s more to Vitamin E than soft skin

You may have seen body lotion and face creams with vitamin E that promise smoother and more supple skin, but the nutrient’s goodness extends well beneath the surface.

A vital nutrient, vitamin E plays a key role in strengthening the immune system against viruses and bacteria, as well as the formation of red blood cells, cell function, widening blood vessels, and helping the body to use vitamin K.

It’s also a potent antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage and has anti-inflammatory properties.

“It helps increase our immune system and prevent chronic diseases like heart and cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer,” says dietitian Jane Freeman, of the Dietitians Association of Australia.

And being a fat soluble vitamin, the body is able to store it.

Thanks to its antioxidant and cell restoration properties, vitamin E is a popular ingredient in many skincare products promoting anti-ageing and skin repair.

How to get more vitamin E

While it’s available in supplement form, vitamin E is ideally derived from the diet and the best sources come from fats and oils, according to the National Health and Medical Research Council.

These include the fats of meat, chicken and fish, eggs, wheat germ, canola, sunflower, safflower, olive, soybean, corn and cottonseed oils, and some vegetables.

Pharmacist Gerald Quigley says egg yolks, almonds, apricot oil and hazelnuts are also quality sources of vitamin E.

If you’re a fan of Instagrammable meals that are covered in tiny, colourful flowers, you may be able to top up your daily dosage by eating the pretty garnish.

Research from two Portuguese universities has revealed two popular edible flowers, borage and centaurea, contain vitamin E.

How much vitamin E do you need?

NHMRC recommends adult women consume 7 mg of vitamin E every day, while adult men should aim for 10mg.

Vitamin E deficiency is rare, though can occur if there are irregularities in dietary fat absorption or metabolism.

“Symptoms include things like nerve damage, poor immune function, poor coordination and fragile red blood cells that would show up in a blood test,” Gerald says.

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Written by Alana Schetzer