Vitamin E – Hormones, Health and Pain
Vitamin E plays an important role in maintaining your reproductive and hormonal health, but much like Vitamin A, it was demonized by the media as being toxic in excessive amounts and it quickly lost its popularity.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that plays important roles in regulating inflammation, supporting heart health, regulating estrogen levels and it even plays a role in supporting the adrenals.
Historically as early as the 1930s Vitamin E was used to improve infertility in both males and females. It was also used to prevent miscarriages. One of the main reasons why this occurs is because of Vitamin E’s ability to alter estrogen or act as an anti-estrogen.
Vitamin E also been documented to support treatments including hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. Specific forms of Vitamin E help to support the brain, heart and uterus by providing additional oxygen to the tissue and thus decreasing atrophy.
Vitamin E, Estrogen and Omega Fatty Acids (Omega-3 & Omega-6)
PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats) are simply the fats that you often hear about like Omega-3s. While Omega-3s are generally healthy for us in moderation, the standard American diet often contains up to a 50:1 ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s. In the current ratios, that leaves us in highly inflammatory state.
Omega-6 fats became very popular for some time as people tried to avoid animal fats, but I hope everyone knows by now that saturated animal fats are some of the most health promoting fats you can eat. The more unsaturated fats that you eat (omega-6s), the more Vitamin E you will need. The main source of Omega-6 fats in the standard American diet is canola/vegetable oil and fried foods.
When Omega-6s encounter high insulin levels, they have a tendency to then convert those fats into inflammatory chemicals. Vitamin E (gamma tocopherol) has been shown to act just like an anti-inflammatory NSAID and can block the COX-2 enzyme. In that way Vitamin E can act as a pain reducer.
Vitamin E & Fertility
High levels of prolactin have been correlated with infertility. High prolactin doesn’t necessarily “cause” infertility, but often needs to be corrected before fertility can be restored. Vitamin E also decreases fibroid generation.
In addition, there are many women that continue to lactate for years after they have stopped breast feeding. (I had one patient that required lactation pads 3 years after the last time she breastfed.) Lastly, there are a few men that lactate also. This is due to excess estrogen and excess prolactin, a deadly combo.
Vitamin E has been shown in research to be able to decrease prolactin levels by up to 70% without altering luteinizing hormone, follicle stimulating hormone and testosterone levels.
Uterine Health & Vitamin E
Many women suffer from poor blood flow to uterus. This can result in infertility in young women or atrophy in older women. Vitamin E has been shown to be able to strengthen the uterine lining and increase blood flow to the uterus. In that way the uterus can not only can get Vitamin E, but also all other nutrients necessary.
Vitamin E and Progesterone
Many of us can remember a time when not every woman over the age of 40 was on hormone replacement therapy. *** It’s okay to laugh even if you are on progesterone :) ***
A common go to therapy is to use progesterone due to its ability to reduce female hormone related symptoms across the board. Vitamin E acts much like progesterone when it comes to the organ health as it relaxes smooth muscle. A study of women given 600mg of Vitamin E daily showed an increase of 67% in progesterone production. An increase of 67% is actually more effective than many prescription hormones.
Vitamin E and Organ Health
Lastly I want to mention the role of vitamin E in maintaining heart health. If you suffer from any chest pain (angina) then whole vitamin E from food sources can be very helpful in restoring heart function. You should obviously see your primary care doctor if you have chest pain, but often times everything is ruled out by your primary and your cardiologist and pain remains. In this case whole vitamin E often provides rapid relief. Cataplex E2 is a common supplement I use. The reason this works is because Vitamin E helps to carry oxygen to muscle tissue. The heart being the most important muscle in the body. Vitamin E also helps regulate the bloods platelet aggregation or in other words helps with blood clotting.
Vitamin E is found in highest concentrations in the pituitary gland (think all hormones) and in the adrenal glands (energy, carbohydrate consumption, etc.).
If you are trying to optimize your energy, hormones, inflammation or heart, Vitamin E is an absolute critical vitamin to consider along your road to recovery.