Vitamin E is the name for a group of fat-soluble compounds (tocopherols and tocotrienols) with distinctive antioxidant activities. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, it stops the production of reactive oxygen species formed when fat undergoes oxidation(lipid peroxidation). Good source of Vitamin E are vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, whole grains and nuts.
Vitamin E Supplementation for Athletic Performance
Most studies, but not all, support the hypothesis that vitamin E supplementation has a protective effect against exercise-induced oxidative damage. In humans taking vitamin E (600 mg of dl-a-tocopherol) three times daily for 2 weeks, a decreased lipid peroxidation has been seen , and subjects who ingested vitamin E (300 mg of d-a-tocopherol acetate) daily for 4 weeks exhibited a lower exercise-induced increase in plasma lipid peroxidation products after supplementation compared with before .
While studies clearly show that supplementation with vitamin E offers protection against tissue damage induced by exercise, it is not clear whether such supplementation has an effect on performance. Vitamin E supplementation had no greater effect on endurance in rats during treadmill running than rats on normal diet . In humans undergoing progressive exercise to exhaustion, no difference was found in VO2max or exercise time before or after vitamin E supplementation . Jeffrey D. Lawrence, Sc.D. et al.  also failed to find any beneficial effect of vitamin E supplementation (900 IU alpha-tocopherol acetate daily for 6 months) on endurance in well-trained, competitive swimmers.
Vitamin E Deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency adversely affects skeletal muscle, and it can lead to muscle degradation in humans.
Some physically active population may be at risk of nutrient depletion and may therefore supplement with vitamins and minerals (not exceeding recommended daily allowance) as a preventive measure. It was noted that vitamin deficiencies impair performance. However, use of vitamin and mineral supplements does not improve measures of performance in people consuming adequate diets.
- Shils, Maurice E., et al., eds. Modern nutrition in health and disease. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.
- National Institute of Health (4 May 2009). “Vitamin E fact sheet”
Dillard, C. J., et al. “Effects of exercise, vitamin E, and ozone on pulmonary function and lipid peroxidation.” Journal of Applied Physiology 45.6 (1978): 927-932.
Satoshi, Sumida, et al. “Exercise-induced lipid peroxidation and leakage of enzymes before and after vitamin E supplementation.” International Journal of Biochemistry 21.8 (1989): 835-838.
Mehlhorn, Rolf J., Satoshi Sumida, and Lester Packer. “Tocopheroxyl radical persistence and tocopherol consumption in liposomes and in vitamin E-enriched rat liver mitochondria and microsomes.” Journal of Biological Chemistry 264.23 (1989): 13448-13452.
Lawrence, Jeffrey D., et al. “Effects of alpha-tocopherol acetate on the swimming endurance of trained swimmers.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 28.3 (1975): 205-208.
- Neville, Hans E., et al. “Ultrastructural and histochemical abnormalities of skeletal muscle in patients with chronic vitamin E deficiency.” Neurology 33.4 (1983): 483-483.
Lukaski, Henry C. “Vitamin and mineral status: effects on physical performance.” (2004).