Vitamin E, or alpha-tocopherol, is an essential nutrient found in foods such as nuts, eggs, olive oil and green, leafy vegetables like spinach. While many of us get the required amount of this and other nutrients through our diet, it may, at times, be necessary to boost Vitamin E levels through the use of a dietary supplement.
You can also get benefits from this particular vitamin by applying a cream, ointment or oil containing it directly to the skin. Scientific studies have shown that the use of products containing Vitamin E can have multiple health benefits, including several specific benefits for the skin itself. That’s why it is often included as an ingredient in skin care products. It can be particularly effective when used in combination with other antioxidants such as Vitamin C.
How Exactly Does Vitamin E Work To Help Your Skin?
Vitamin E works to benefit the skin in several different ways. Its primary effect is as an antioxidant, to combat the build-up of free radicals caused by sun exposure and exposure to other common pollutants. Free radicals are cells that contain an uneven amount of atoms. They will try to combat this imbalance by stealing atoms from healthy cells within the body. As a result, the body’s normal function is impeded and it is left open to any number of infections. Antioxidants like Vitamin E work to rid the body of free radicals and prevent the subsequent damage that they do.
Aside from its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E also has anti-inflammatory properties. These two qualities combined make it one of the most effective agents in combating the natural signs of aging. In fact, scientists have proven that we lose some Vitamin E as we age, which is thought to contribute to the development of fine lines, wrinkles and age spots. Using products that contain Vitamin E, then, may help to reverse this process and improve the overall health of the skin.
What Specific Skin Conditions Does It Treat?
While the primary use of Vitamin E is to help block the damage caused by the UV rays of the sun and to prevent the fine lines and wrinkles caused by aging, it can also be used to treat other specific conditions, including acne, sunburn, age spots, and to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and scars as well as promoting the healing of wounds. Though a dose of 600 IU of alpha-tocopherol daily for 60 days can be taken orally to treat atopic eczema, for most skin related issues, topical treatment is more effective.
Applying a cream, ointment or oil containing Vitamin E directly to the skin allows for this essential nutrient to be absorbed more directly into the bloodstream. This is particularly important when treating skin blemishes or wounds, as oral doses of the Vitamin may take several days to reach the site and provide help. Rubbed gently onto acne blemishes, age spots or stretch marks, Vitamin E oil can help to provide a natural source of moisture as well as a barrier to block out free radicals and reduce UV damage.
It is important to note that Vitamin E is not, in itself, a sunscreen, but it is an essential ingredient of many popular sunscreens and can help to boost the body’s natural healing abilities. This also makes it an effective agent for speeding the healing of wounds, where it helps to strengthen the tissue around the wound and prevent further breaking.
How Does It Compare To Traditional Treatments?
The most significant difference between Vitamin E and traditional skin treatments is its ability to be naturally synthesized by the body, so that it can provide healing without any unnecessary and potentially damaging side effects. Synthetic ingredients cannot be broken down naturally, therefore they tend to have more lingering negative effects on the body. While there have been isolated incidences of allergic reaction to topical treatments containing Vitamin E, these are extremely rare and it is generally very well tolerated.
While the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Vitamin E make it a useful agent against many ailments, there is still a lack of scientific evidence to back up claims of its effectiveness in treating skin conditions such as eczema and acne, so you may still want to opt for more traditional treatments or at least combine the use of Vitamin E creams and ointment with other treatments. Also, since antioxidants work in synergy, combining Vitamin E with other antioxidants like Vitamins A and C can boost its healing benefits even more.