Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, diet gurus preached the virtues of the fat-free diet. Because oils are so calorie dense, it was argued that if you cut out fat, you cut down calories, and kept down your weight. These days, we know that isn’t true. In fact, if you follow the Mediterranean Diet, the Bulletproof Diet, or the Ketogenic Diet, you know just how important healthy fats are to keeping weight and disease-causing inflammation down. You’ll may also know how much healthy fats contribute to the health of our brains.
About Vitamin E…
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant crucial to ongoing brain health. But it is fat soluble. Your body can only absorb Vitamin E – and any other fat soluble nutrient – in the presence of fat. So, you can develop deficiencies of vitamin E if you don’t get enough fat in your diet. A 2014 study in FASEB Journal points to more than 90% of Americans getting less the the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin E.
Although the brain only uses glucose for fuel, antioxidants like as Vitamin E protect the brain from oxidative damage. As the brain ages (and in the case of some neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s) normal antioxidant defense mechanisms decline, increasing the vulnerability of the brain to the oxidative damage. Not only does Vitamin E prevent this damage, it also supports the brain in utilizing DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). DHA is a Polyunsaturated fatty acid found in fish oil.
An Optimized Brain
DHA supports neurotransmitter activity by increasing the number of neurotransmitter receptors, allowing the brain to optimize the use of serotonin and dopamine. Studies performed by the Clinical Research Center for Mental Health in Antwerp, Belgium and the University of Wollongong Smart Foods Centre found patients suffering from major depression had lower Vitamin E serum concentrations than those without major depression. A Linus Pauling Institute study on Zebrafish showed that depleted Vitamin E stores in the body drain DHA containing lipids in the brain. With other studies showing that taking large quantities of fish oil – which contains DHA – can combat depression, it looks as if the antioxidant qualities of Vitamin E are what allows DHA to work it’s magic.
Not only is Vitamin E beneficial to our brains, it can heal our skin, thicken our hair, improve vision, and balance hormones. Alpha tocopherol is the most biologically active form of Vitamin E, meaning that it is most readily absorbed by the body. Although synthetic versions of Vitamin E are available – and cost less – they don’t have the same potency or effect. Although it may seem like a good idea to spend less to buy more of the synthetic version, it’s likely that you get what you pay for.