How Vitamin E Works

Vitamin E is a free-radical scavenger that destroys toxic free radicals like "bad" oxygen and hydrogen peroxide; these antioxidant properties may benefit patients with Alzheimer's disease and protect against memory loss due to the aging process.

The anticoagulant properties of vitamin E, which distinguish it from the other antioxidant vitamins A and C, may help protect against stroke.

In laboratory experiments, exposing brain cells to vitamin E limits the number of cells damaged by glutamate, a naturally occurring substance that can act as a destructive neurotransmitter in many brain regions. This may be another method by which vitamin E protects against stroke. A Tufts University investigation found that a single 200 mg capsule of vitamin E daily significantly improved immune system response.

These broad antiaging effects of vitamin E have led to propositions that it can fight cancer, slow down the formation of cataracts in the eyes, and relieve arthritic symptoms. Some of these claims go way beyond the available evidence, and it remains to be seen if the actions of vitamin E are really that widespread.

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