Vitamin E is the Super Brain Pill
It’s an alarming prospect, but true. Without sufficient vitamin E, the fatty parts of your brain are more apt to turn rancid, causing monumental disturbances in the normal functioning of neurons. The brain is mostly fat, making it extremely susceptible to fat-spoiling free radicals, and there is only one antioxidant, vitamin E, that dwells exclusively in the fatty part of cell membranes and thus can do constant battle with such free radicals on their home turf. That’s the main reason many researchers believe vitamin E has the greatest proven record so far of all vitamins for protecting brain cells against ‘breakdown due to normal “wear and tear” free radical attacks as well as degeneration caused by specific diseases, such as Alzheimer’s. Evidence from autopsies show that deficiencies of vitamin E causes axons of nerve cells to degenerate and the cerebellum to shrink.
Vitamin E has many powers. But probably greatest is its strong antioxidant power to protect fat in cell membranes from undergoing “lipid peroxidation”—another word for rancidity—caused by free-radical chemicals. This “lipid peroxidation” also leads to clogged and hardened blood vessels everywhere, including those of the brain as well as the heart. Vitamin E is unique in that it can squelch ferocious free radical “chain reactions” that start with just one molecule and rage like wildfire through the body and brain, spreading rancidity and destroying cell after cell until stopped.
“Vitamin E is like a cellular fire extinguisher,” says one researcher, that snuffs out such biological rampages. Nowhere is this vitamin E protection more critical than in high-fat membranes of brain cells that must remain intact for the swift and accurate transmission of messages. Damaged or rancid membranes emit garbled messages, manifested as memory loss and other intellectual failures.
Indeed, the first sign of a vitamin E deficiency is a neurological problem.
EXCITING FACT: Vitamin E is the first nonprescription agent chosen for large scale human tests by the National Institute on Aging to determine if it slows memory loss in middle-aged persons, and prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
FOUR WAYS VITAMIN E SAVES YOUR BRAIN
- Vitamin E neutralizes free radicals that damage the outer membranes of neurons, wrecking their ability to transmit messages, as well as the membranes of energy factories within cells, called mitochondria, that are key to a well-functioning brain.
- Vitamin E helps regulate message transmission within cells as well as between cells. This newly discovered so-called “second messenger system” is critical in directing and controlling activity of neurotransmitters once they enter the nerve cell.
- Vitamin E has immune-related benefits that reduce cell-damaging inflammation that is increasingly considered a primary villain in brain disease, including strokes and dementia.
Vitamin E reduces clogging of blood vessels that are the conduits of life for brain cells by delivering oxygen. A primary cause of brain oxygen starvation and stroke is a blocked carotid (neck) artery. Plaque-filled small capillaries in the brain also cause oxygen starvation, ruptured cerebral vessels, and so-called mini-strokes. Vitamin E fights plaque buildup and promotes vascular flexibility.
BRAIN RESEARCHERS TAKE VITAMIN E
“I take 1000 IUs of vitamin E a day,” says D. Allan Butterfield, a leading brain researcher and chemistry professor at the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. He has studied vitamin E’s ability to neutralize free radicals.
“I take 800 IUs of vitamin E daily,” says Carl Cot-man, director of the Institute of Brain Aging and Dementia at the University of California, Irvine.
“I take 400 IU of vitamin E daily,” says Dr. Mark Mattson of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
“I take 500 IU of natural vitamin E,” says Dr. Lester Packer, Ph.D., world authority on antioxidants at the University of California at Berkeley.