Health & Wellness Vitamin E

Vitamin E (Tocopherol) is a powerful antioxidant

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.[2]

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 [3], 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 [4].

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 [5]. In humans undergoing progressive exercise to exhaustion, no difference was found in VO2max or exercise time before or after vitamin E supplementation [4]. Jeffrey D. Lawrence, Sc.D. et al. [6] 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.[7]

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.[8]



  1. Shils, Maurice E., et al., eds. Modern nutrition in health and disease. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2005.
  2. National Institute of Health (4 May 2009). “Vitamin E fact sheet”
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.