Vitamin E is Vital

One of the main fat-soluble antioxidant vitamins found in the body is vitamin E. It has protective functions within the cellular membrane, lipoproteins, and other structures that are oily in nature. Skin is particularly high in unsaturated fatty acids, so vitamin E (both topically and orally) is very beneficial.

Flavonoids and skincare

There are a wide-ranging group of plant pigments that have antioxidant properties; these are known as flavonoids. They are the substance that gives most fruit, vegetables, and flowers their color. Apart from providing color that serves as a draw to animals and insects, these pigments also protect plants from various environmental stresses. Not only are flavonoids strong antioxidants, but they also have anti-carcinogenic, anti-viral, anti allergens, and anti-inflammatory protection. There have been more than 4,000 flavonoids classified and characterized. But only a few of that 4,000 have been researched to any degree. Two kinds of flavonoids are valuable for skincare: proanthocyanins (found in pine bark and grapes) and polyphenols (found in green tea).

Coenzyme Q10, Lipoic acid, Cysteine, Methionine – a summary

Coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, cysteine, and methionine are all strong and viable antioxidants. They all also have other uses, at least concerning their antioxidant protection. See the discussion above on conditionally essential nutrients.

Vitamin E reborn: how to correctly use tocopherols and tocotrienols for skin and health

The most commonly referred to natural antioxidant is vitamin E. Vitamin E is actually the best-known antioxidant found in the human body. Its main biological function is the protect lipids from free radical damage and oxidation. Lipids are a key component of the cell membranes as well as other biochemical structures. Oxidation is a tremendous threat to lipid-based substances; it can cause them to disintegrate within a few hours. This means that lipid protectors like vitamin E are vital things. But like most things, vitamin E needs to be used with some knowledge.

As with all vitamins, a complete lack of vitamins in the diet would be fatal. But the good news is that the minimum amount of vitamin E needed to maintain basic health is so low that virtually any diet has enough vitamin E in it to prevent deficiency. For many years scientists have told us that amounts of vitamin E that are excess to the minimum would provide extra positive effects such as lowering the risk of heart disease and cataracts as well as slowing the aging process in the skin). Unfortunately, a few years ago, the reputation of vitamin E was blemished. Several noteworthy scientific trials showed that long-term high-level doses of vitamin E supplements had little to no effect on the risk of heart disease. In one study, vitamin E appeared to have made people more vulnerable to heart disease rather than protecting them from it.

The good news is that there has been additional research done on vitamin E. This new research shows that well-formulated vitamin E supplements can be even more beneficial than previously thought. You do, however, have to use vitamin E with care. But, if you have a good grasp of the minutiae of how to use it, then you will reap the benefits.

Most vitamin E supplements are made up solely of DL-alpha-tocopherol, which is a combination of two visually different kinds of alpha-tocopherol – D, and L. DL alpha-tocopherol is not good enough to prevent vitamin E deficiency if used on its own. Current thinking says that vitamin E represents a broad range of related natural compounds that include alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherols, as well as alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocotrienols.


The main ingredient in the majority of vitamin E supplements is alpha-tocopherol which is a well-tested antioxidant. All antioxidants work with a limited group of free radicals. Beta, delta, and gamma tocopherols work with different antioxidants than the alpha variety. The later three work with and enhance the work of the alpha-tocopherol in combating free radicals and preventing diseases. One scientific study showed that large doses of alpha-tocopherol taken on its own could be used to lower the blood levels of gamma tocopherols by 30 to 50 percent. This could be why high volume doses of vitamin E supplements can do more damage than good in certain circumstances.

Tocotrienols – another part of the vitamin E family

Another member of the vitamin E family is tocotrienols. These are the most important group. These antioxidants are 50 times stronger than the tocopherols are. They have been proved to increase the average lifespan of animals by close to 20 percent. When their effects have been studied on humans, tocotrienols have shown a tremendous amount of promise in the treatment and even prevention of degenerative diseases. In one instance, they were shown to reverse the narrowing of the carotid artery resulting from atherosclerosis. This is a very impressive outcome for a noninvasive procedure. Like tocopherols, tocotrienols come in several forms (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma).

What kind of vitamin to use – natural v. synthetic

Synthetic vitamins can be equally as effective as the ones produced from natural substances. This is not the case when it comes to vitamin E. Natural vitamin E is made of only the delta forms of both tocotrienols and tocopherols. In contrast, manufactured vitamin E supplements are produced with an equal mixture of the D and L forms. It is expensive to isolate the D form of vitamin E, so it is rarely done when the supplements are being mass-produced. The L form seems to be less effective than the natural D form, particularly when taken orally in pill form. Even though it is more expensive, it is better to use natural supplements.

Why take vitamin E for your skin?

So far, there have been no conclusive studies of the effectiveness of using oral v. topical alpha-tocopherol on its own compared to that which contains a balanced mix of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Most probably, the topical mixture is more effective than the one that has the mixture. Therefore, when you buy vitamin E supplements, be sure to look for one with a balanced mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Unfortunately, most topical vitamin E only has alpha-tocopherol. If you can’t find one that has the mixture, you can always make your own.

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