Vitamin E to Boost Your Immune System

By Nutrition Expert – Trupti Gurav,Mumbai

Vitamins and minerals are considered essential nutrients—because acting in concert, they perform hundreds of roles in the body. They help shore up bones, heal wounds, and bolster your immune system. They also convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage.  

Vitamin E is an important vitamin required for the proper function of many organs in the body. It is also an antioxidant. This means it helps to slow down processes that damage cells. Vitamin E is key  for strong immunity and healthy skin and eyes. (1)

This essential nutrient occurs naturally in many foods. It’s also available as a dietary supplement. Sometimes, it’s in processed foods. Vitamin E is fat-soluble. This means your body stores and uses it as needed. (2)    

Immunity is the ability of the body to defend itself from ‘foreign bodies’. This means rejecting infections, clearing up dust which gets in the lungs, and killing cancer cells. Vaccination builds on the natural immune system to make a person resist certain diseases.

Why is immunity important?

The immune system protects us from disease caused by bacteria, viruses and toxins, and helps remove foreign bodies and malignant cells from our system. In addition, the immune system is responsible for down-regulating immune responses against external harmless triggers such as food, or against the bodies’ own tissue. The immune system is not fully developed at birth, but matures over the first few years of life. Early life is therefore a key phase for training an infant’s immune system.

Without an immune system, our bodies would be open to attack from bacteria, viruses, parasites, and more. (3)

The immune system is spread throughout the body and involves many types of cells, organs, proteins, and tissues. Crucially, it can distinguish our tissue from foreign tissue, self from non-self. Dead and faulty cells are also recognized and cleared away by the immune system. If the immune system encounters a pathogen, for instance, a bacterium, virus, or parasite, it mounts a so-called immune response. (4)

How Keep our Immune System Is Healthy? (5)

  1.  Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  2. Get at least 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week.
  3. Get enough sleep.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Keep up with your vaccinations. Almost everyone who’s at least 6 months old should get a flu vaccine every year.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight.
  7. Don’t drink too much alcohol. Don’t smoke.
  8. Improve immunity with herbs and supplements.

Role of Vitamin E in Immunity system

Vitamin E is the most important chain-breaking, lipid-soluble antioxidant present in body tissues of all cells and is considered the first line of defence against lipid per oxidation and it is important for normal function of the immune cells. 

Vitamin E also plays an important role in carcinogenesis with its antioxidant properties against cancer, and ischemic heart disease with limiting the progression of atherosclerosis. Supplementation of vitamin E significantly enhances both cell mediated and humoral immune functions in humans, especially in the elderly and animals. (6)

A 2015 study by the Department of Epidemiology and Health Statistics of the Qingdao University Medical College found that vitamin E intake and high serum-tocopherol levels were linked to a decreased risk of age-related cataracts. (7)

Vitamin E deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency is very rare in healthy people. Infants, people with fat malabsorption and abetalipoproteinemia (a condition that prevents the body from completely absorbing certain dietary fats) are more likely to have vitamin E deficiency.

 Anaemia, skeletal myopathy, ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, retinopathy, impairment of the immune response and nerve damage are signs that there may be a deficiency of vitamin E. (8) 

How much vitamin E Required?

The recommended dietary allowances of vitamin E for Indians are approximately 8-10 mg /day (NIN).

Sources of vitamin E?

Vitamin E is found naturally in foods and is added to some fortified foods. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin E by eating a variety of foods including the following:

  • Vegetable oils like wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oils are among the best sources of vitamin E. Corn and soybean oils also provide some vitamin E.
  • Nuts (such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and, especially, almonds) and seeds (like sunflower seeds) are also among the best sources of vitamin E.
  • Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, provide some vitamin E.
  • Food companies add vitamin E to some breakfast cereals, fruit juices, margarines and spreads, and other foods. To find out which ones have vitamin E, check the product labels.

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