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What Does Vitamin E Do for the Body?

by
author image Jessica Bruso
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.
What Does Vitamin E Do for the Body?
Eating vitamin-E rich foods may help improve your health. Photo Credit endermasali/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin E is an essential fat-soluble vitamin found in eggs, liver, nuts and seeds, some types of vegetable oil, and also in some fruits and vegetables, and it fulfills a number of important functions in the body. It's best to get the 15 milligrams of vitamin E you need each day through foods, rather than taking high-dose supplements, since these supplements may potentially increase your risk for heart problems, stroke and certain types of cancer.

Antioxidant Function

Antioxidants, like vitamin E, help prevent damage to your cells from compounds called free radicals, and may potentially lower your risk for cancer and heart disease. Free radicals are produced when your body comes into contact with the ultraviolet rays from the sun, air pollution and cigarette smoke, as well as when your body turns the food you eat into energy, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.

Immune Function

You need to consume plenty of vitamin E for proper immune function. People who have low levels of vitamin E tend to have impaired immune function and get sick more often. When these people take vitamin E supplements to get their vitamin E levels back to normal, their immune function improves, according to an article published in 2000 in "Vitamins and Hormones." This is particularly important for the elderly and those suffering from HIV/AIDS, since they tend to have reduced immune function. High vitamin-E diets have been shown to ameliorate this problem.

Vitamin E and the Blood

Without vitamin E, your body would have difficulty forming red blood cells. Vitamin E also plays a role in the use of vitamin K, which helps blood clotting, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Vitamin E itself acts as a blood thinner, however, by widening your blood vessels so that clots are less likely to form, and people who take other medications that can thin the blood should avoid taking vitamin E supplements, since Vitamin E supplements could increase your risk for excessive bleeding.

Cell Function

Vitamin E also plays a number of roles involving cells. You need vitamin E for cell differentiation, or for turning generic cells into the specific types your body needs, cell division and cell signaling, which allows your cells to communicate with each other. You need cells to be able to communicate to keep your body functioning properly as well as for proper immune function and to heal damaged tissues in your body.

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