Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant that protects body tissue from damage caused by unstable substances called free radicals. Free radicals can harm cells, tissues, and organs. They are believed to lay a role in certain conditions associated with aging. Vitamin E is the collective term for a family of chemical substances that are structurally and, in some cases, biologically related to the best known member of this family, alpha-tocopherol. It is an essential nutrient for humans. Deficiency states of Vitamin E, however, do exist in humans, and sub-optimal nutriture of the vitamin may increase the risk of certain degenerative disorders, such as coronary heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer. Excellent sources of Vitamin E include mustard greens, chard, sunflower seeds, and turnip greens. Very good sources include almonds and spinach. Vitamin E has antioxidant activity. It may also have anti-atherogenic, antithrombotic, anticoagulant, neuroprotective, antiproliferative, immunomodulatory, cell membrane-stabilizing and antiviral actions.
Vitamin E has sometimes been described as the "lightening rod" of the cell, allowing reactive molecules to strike the cell, like lightening, without causing damage. This "lightening rod" function of Vitamin E is particularly apparent in the case of the skin, since Vitamin E directly protects the skin from ultraviolet radiation (also called UV light). In numerous research studies, Vitamin E applied topically to the skin has been shown to prevent UV damage. When the diet contains Vitamin E-rich foods, Vitamin E can travel to the skin cell membranes and exert this same protective effect.
Vitamin E, as an antioxidant, acts to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of energy metabolism. Free radicals can damage cells and may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies are underway to determine whether Vitamin E, through its ability to limit production of free radicals, might help prevent or delay the development of those chronic diseases. It has also been shown to play a role in immune function, in DNA repair, and other metabolic processes.
PDR Health. http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/vit_0266.shtml
Office of Dietary Supplement. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamine.asp