According to a new Chinese study, daily supplementation of vitamin E may protect cells from the damaging effects of oxidative stress among healthy middle-aged and elderly people.
In the randomized controlled study, 180 healthy people aged between 55 and 77 were assigned to receive vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) in doses of 100, 200, or 300 mg/day or a placebo for four months (1). Analyses of blood samples showed that all three dosage levels of vitamin E significantly decreased red blood cell rupturing (erythrocyte hemolysis) with decreases ranging from 20 to 38% compared to placebo. In addition, levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) – a marker of oxidative stress – were significantly decreased in all three vitamin E groups. Moreover, the higher dose vitamin E groups had significant improvements in erythrocyte membrane fluidity.
The researchers concluded that these findings support the hypothesis that dietary supplementation of vitamin E can effectively increase erythrocyte resistance to oxidative stress and improve membrane fluidity for healthy aging people. As vitamin E resides primarily in cell membranes, it could protect polyunsaturated fatty acids in the membrane from oxidative damage. Alpha-tocopherol, the vitamin E form used in the study, is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol is the most common form in the American diet.