Vitamin E & Immunity

Vitamin E, also known as alpha-tocopherol, is an essential fat-soluble nutrient. Common foods that have good levels of vitamin E include nuts, seeds, vegetable oils or margarine, and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin E is considered an antioxidant due to its ability to scavenge the increased reactive oxidative species during heavy bouts of exercise. Its role in immune function is by increasing antibody production, natural killer cell activity, and lymphocyte proliferation, as well as helping maintain cell membrane integrity. 

Deficiency of vitamin E is rare in humans, but if present can lead to impairment of immunity and increased risk of infections. Most research has shown benefits in enhancing immunity in the elderly population, with less positive results in athletes. High doses can also have the opposite effect of being pro-oxidative.

Supplementation is not generally recommended unless you are deficient, and a food first approach is a good start to increase levels. The recommended intake of vitamin E is up to 15mg/day for children depending on age, and 15-19mg/day for adults.

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