Skin is your body’s largest organ, and it is responsible for protecting internal organs, guarding your body from extreme temperatures and absorbing vitamin D to help with the conversion of calcium. As your skin ages, the epidermis, or top layer, begins to thin. This thinning action reduces elasticity, which results in wrinkles and sagging. Stretch marks form when the skin is pulled by stretching or rapid growth, and collagen production is disrupted. Proponents of vitamin E claim that topical application can alleviate the severity of stretch marks and restore skin elasticity. However, scientific data are inconclusive regarding its effectiveness.
Purpose of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble compound recognized by scientists as having distinctive antioxidant properties. While vitamin E exists in eight forms, alpha-tocopherol is the only version that seems to be most active in the human body. The primary function of vitamin E is to protect cells from reactive oxygen species, or ROS. This compound is created when your body converts food to energy, and it can disrupt the functionality of a cell and destroy healthy cells. Vitamin E is consumed through dietary sources or supplements, and is stored in your liver for release as needed throughout body. As part of a dietary plan, the Office of Dietary Supplements recommends consuming 15 mg of vitamin E a day.
Effects on Skin
Because of the antioxidant properties of vitamin E, proponents claim that it can protect the skin from damage from free radicals and ROS. Diane Irons, author of “911 Beauty Secrets: An Emergency Guide to Looking Great at Every Age, Size and Budget,” contends that the antioxidant qualities of vitamin E can enhance collagen production, which results in increased elasticity and a reduction in scar or stretch mark visibility. It is a common ingredient in skin creams. While subjective reports claim that this vitamin, when applied topically, improves the cosmetic appearance of the skin and expedites wound healing, studies have not shown any significant alteration or improvement in skin elasticity or scar reduction.
You can apply vitamin E directly on stretch marks and areas with reduced elasticity. The alpha-tocopheryl acetate form of vitamin E is commonly used in topical applications, because it penetrates the skin to deliver antioxidants directly to skin cells. This form of vitamin E is available in skin ointments and oils.
Discuss the use of vitamin E supplementation or topical application with your physician. If you consume the recommended daily intake, side effects are rare. But if you consume more than the suggested amount, you might experience adverse reactions.
- National Geographic: Skin
- KidsHealth: Stretch Marks; Dr. Patrice Hyde; January 2011
- Office of Dietary Supplements; Vitamin E; June 2011
- "911 Beauty Secrets: an Emergency Guide to Looking Great at Every Age, Size and Budget"; Diane Irons; 1999.
- Linus Pauling Institute: All About E; Maret G. Traber, Ph.D.; November 2004