Vitamin E has a documented effect on supporting immune cell activity and increasing resistance to infections.
It both enhances and protects the immune system.
White blood cells have a higher concentration of vitamin E than do red blood cells, and vitamin E has been shown to increase activity of phagocytes and T cells.
A deficiency in vitamin E lowers general host resistance by depressing the proliferation of lymphocytes and the antibody response to pathogens.
It also lowers delayed hypersensitivity reactions, a crucial immunological response to cancer, worms, and chronic infections}
A potent intracellular antioxidant, vitamin E protects lymphocytes and monocytes from dismemberment by free radicals and therefore significantly increases both the life expectancy and effectiveness of these immune defenders. Vitamin E also suppresses the hormone called prostaglandin E2, which has been linked to age-related declines in immune response.
Several studies have shown that even moderate supplementation of vitamin E can reduce the statistical rate of infections among healthy older people. In animal studies, high doses of vitamin E given to elderly animals have caused their immune response to equal that of younger individuals. So this is one more nutrient that may help in slowing the natural decline of immunity with aging.
Vitamin E supplements can improve immune function in as little as a month. When vitamin E was given to a group of elderly men and women, numerous aspects of immunity improved, including increased T -cell activity. At the same time, free-radical damage decreased. In another study, vitamin E supplements also improved immune function in otherwise healthy young adults.
Vitamin E is one of the few nutrients for which higher than recommended amounts have been shown to enhance the immune response and might be needed to maintain the optimum immune response. However, supplementation above 600 IU should be avoided unless professionally recommended.
Vitamin E has been shown to indirectly inhibit HIV replication by quenching free radicals (which promote HIV replication) and by stimulating various aspects of the immune system. One type of vitamin E, d-alpha tocopheryl succinate, can also stop the growth of cancers, including those caused by retroviruses similar to HIV.
Symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency
Food Sources for Vitamin E
Vitamin E is found in
Raw nuts and seeds
Wheat germ oil
Whole wheat grains
200-400 milligrams daily.
Megadoses of Vitamin E, 1200 mg daily or higher, may inhibit immune function, especially in the young. Supplementation above 600 IU should be avoided unless professionally recommended.