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E: The mistrusted vitamin.

Byline: Mariam A. Alireza

When the two Canadian doctors, brothers Evan and Wilfred Shute pioneered the treatment of heart patients with vitamin E in the 1940s, they were denunciated as a couple of quacks by their American colleagues as well as the media. Their research was ignored.

Fortunately due to the 60s' nutrient and vitamin euphoria, vitamin E made a comeback and its health benefits were finally recognized by the once skeptical medical profession.

Vitamin E as well as its peers A and C offers antioxidant action against free radicals, which harm cells and their DNA. Together, the trio reactivates damaged cells and deactivates damaging cells by restoring, neutralizing, and repairing them. By doing so, the three can boost the immune defenses and protect against infections in both young and old.

In studies, the elderly who used E (400 I.U.) and C (1,000 mg) were less likely to catch flu viruses or die from them. Apart from scavenging free radicals, this fat soluble vitamin coming from nuts and seeds also enhances and rejuvenates brain tissue, neurotransmitters, cells, blood vessel elasticity, and immunity against the ravages of age. By protecting the fatty cell walls and eliminating damaged cells, the nutrient delays the process of aging. A protective dose is around 400 I.U.

Vitamin E has a major protective function against strokes, heart attacks and blood clotting by thinning the blood and acting on clots. How is that? The combination of fatty and sugary foods leads to platelet coagulation, thickening the blood and making it lumpy and sticky, which blocks arteries and vessels. Vitamin E comes to the rescue by attaching itself to the very enzyme that makes the blood coagulate and starts breaking it up. By making the blood more fluid, it prevents disabling strokes and deadly heart attacks. Vitamin E 400 I.U. is just as effective as blood thinning drugs and even safer.

According to Dr. Heinerman's recommendation in Nature's Vitamins and Minerals, the combination of vitamin E and ginger supplements (4 a day with meals) produces an anticoagulant effect on thickened blood. A two-year study showed the benefits of both E and ginger root supplements on high risk patients.

Scientists at Health Sciences Institute believe tocotrienol in vitamin E can act like a blood thinner and lower "bad" cholesterol, thus reducing fatal heart attacks and strokes.

Vitamins E (400 I.U.) and C along with a low-fat-and-sugar-diet showed a slow down in the advancement and recurrence of cardiovascular blockage and heart disease in patients undergone bypass surgeries. Together, they counteract oxidation of cholesterol and plaque in arteries, lowering risk of heart disease and fatality.

Diabetes is another disorder that vitamin E can help. It can lower diabetic incidents by preventing oxidation that disrupts sugar breakdown and exhausts pancreatic insulin secretion. Doses over 1,000 I.U. of E alpha-tocopherol increase insulin efficiency.

Neurological disorders (Parkinson's disease, epilepsy) can be helped or reversed by supervised high doses of vitamin E (over 1,200 I.U.). E deficiency can lead to nerve damage and supplementation can protect against the disorder.

Individuals suffering liver disease (cirrhosis), fat malabsorption, and cystic fibrosis can benefit from high doses of vitamin E. Deficiency in the nutrient can result in such problems, undigested fat, muscle weakness, pain, and loss, weak reflexes and unsteadiness, restrictive vision, and abnormal eye movements.

Hyperventilation, crackling voice, and low blood plasma oxygen are side-effects of vitamin E deficiency. A combination of vitamins E (600 I.U.) and C (3000 mg) and selenium (200 mcg) can correct the condition along with avoiding dairy products and eggs.

Painful menstruation and its symptoms can be relieved by 400 I.U. of vitamin E.

Vitamin E has seven Greek letters of its tocopherol components. Alpha-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol (d-tocopherol) are the most commonly known ones. Do not confuse the latter with ld-tocopherol, which is chemically manufactured and not as effective.

According to Dr. Heinerman, a research at the University of California, Berkeley, showed that gamma-tocopherol prevented nitrogen oxides from causing inflammation in the body, which alter cell's DNA. With the help of alpha, gamma can deactivate nitrogen oxides.

Researches at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii showed that high doses of the gamma type can inhibit tumor cell growth in the body.

Vitamin E (alpha and gamma) occurs naturally in raw nuts, seeds, and their unrefined oils as well as avocadoes, legumes, butter, peas, tomatoes, fresh apples, wheat germ and oil, grains, sweet potatoes, sardines, salmon, tuna, chicken breast, and beef.

Many in the medical profession still mistrust vitamin E, but the vitamin along with its helpers C and selenium is essential for a healthy and functional immune system. A nutritious diet should include whole organic nutrient-dense foods in order to supply the body with health-protecting nutrients. Smart eating can save a lot of pain and money!

Copyright: Arab News 2009 All rights reserved.

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Publication:Arab News (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Date:May 23, 2009
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