New research conducted at Oregon State University has found that vitamin E deficiency might put people at a higher risk of brain damage. The study was recently published in the Journal of Lipid Research.
Some of these researchers even believe that vitamin E could be the answer to combat mental imbalances such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
How vitamin E deficiency can cause brain damage
The researchers at Oregon State University discovered that zebrafish who were fed a diet deficient in vitamin E had up to 30 percent lower levels of DHA-PC compared to zebrafish who were fed a diet high in vitamin E.
DHA-PC, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, is an essential part of the cell membrane of every neuron or brain cell in the human body. Previous research already linked low DHA-PC levels in human plasma to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
DHA-PC is not the only thing that plays an important role in protecting the brain. This new study also found that levels of lyso PLs are lowered by 60 percent when fish are fed a diet deficient in vitamin E. Lyso PLs are nutrients that the body uses to get DHA into the brain cells, and it is also involved in the repair of the cell membrane.
“This research showed that vitamin E is needed to prevent a dramatic loss of a critically important molecule in the brain, and helps explain why vitamin E is needed for brain health,” said Maret Traber, the Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Micronutrient Research at the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at OSU, who was the lead author of this research.
“Human brains are very enriched in DHA but they can’t make it,” said Traber. “They get it from the liver. The particular molecules that help carry it there are these lyso PLs, and the amount of those compounds is being greatly reduced when vitamin E intake is insufficient. This sets the stage for cellular membrane damage and neuronal death.”
How to get more vitamin E to protect your brain
In the U.S., more than 90 percent of people fail to get enough of this important brain-protecting nutrient through the food they eat. DHA is mainly found in omega-3 fatty acids. The human body needs around 15 milligrams each day to maintain optimal brain health.
While some people might benefit from taking vitamin E supplements, many natural food sources contain heaps of omega-3 to protect your brain.
The best foods for boosting your Vitamin E intake include:
- Almonds: Just 1 ounce of almonds offers half of your recommended daily intake. If you’re not a huge fan of almonds, go for hazelnuts or pine nuts instead.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, and broccoli are also among the best and healthiest foods to increase vitamin E levels naturally.
- Seeds: Seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, or sesame seeds are another great way to increase your intake. In fact, just 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds provides around 90 percent of your recommended daily intake.
- Avocado: Packed with healthy fats, avocados are an easy and delicious way to get more vitamin E into your diet.
- Olives: Whether you eat the fruit or use its oil, olives provide an excellent way to make sure you meet your daily need of healthy fats to protect your brain.
These are only a few examples of healthy and nutritious foods that are high in vitamin E. Make these part of your daily diet to keep your brain healthy and in optimal condition.