- 1 What is Vitamin E
- 2 Vitamin E and its role in osteoarthritis treatment
- 3 Vitamin E and rheumatoid arthritis
- 4 Summary
- 5 Bibliography
What is Vitamin E
Vitamin E is used to describe a group of eight fat-soluble substances. These compounds include tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocopherols are the most commonly consumed form of vitamin E in western diets. As fat-soluble antioxidants, vitamin E is most active in cell membranes, acting as free radical scavengers.
Free radicals are compounds released that can cause cell damage. Thus, vitamin E is important for protecting the body from oxidative stress as part of osteoarthritis treatment. However, animal studies have shown that deposits of fat and cholesterol particles in blood vessels counteract the positive effects of vitamin E1.
Foods and Dosages
Vitamin E-rich foods include vegetable oils such as olive, sunflower and corn oil. Fish such as mackerel, herring and salmon are also rich in vitamin E. Another good source of vitamin E is fruit, particularly currants, mangos and avocados.
Adults need approximately 12mg of vitamin E daily. However, many people do not meet this minimum requirement in their diet.
Vitamin E and its role in osteoarthritis treatment
A 2009 study in Thailand measured the concentrations of various antioxidants in the synovial fluid of patients with osteoarthritis2. The synovial fluid of osteoarthritis patients was compared with the synovial fluid of patients with injured knee joints. Vitamin E concentration was measured using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).
Sutipornpalangkul and colleagues found that vitamin E concentrations were significantly lower in the synovial fluid of osteoarthritis patients compared with that of injured knee joint patients. The researchers concluded that vitamin E deficiency promotes oxidative processes in the knee and accelerates osteoarthritis. Thus, Sutipornpalangkul and colleagues concluded that a vitamin E treatment may have a positive impact in protecting cartilage from further destruction.
Free radicals damage articular cartilage
Free radicals attack the cartilage cells and destroy their structure. As a result, the joint cartilage is progressively reduced and irretrievably lost. Since vitamins are very important free radical scavengers, vitamin E may play an important role in the treatment of osteoarthritis.
In 2009, Haflah and colleagues published their findings into the effects of vitamin E from palm oil on the symptoms of osteoarthritis patients3. For comparison, a second group of subjects were given glucosamine sulphate.
A total of 79 participants were given either 400mg of vitamin E or 1.5g of glucosamine sulphate over a period of 6 months. The application of both substances reduced the symptoms of osteoarthritis. Although the exact actions of vitamin E were not determined, the results are nevertheless positive. Researchers need to conduct further studies before more accurate statements can be made regarding the effect of vitamin E on osteoarthritis.
How vitamin E slows osteoarthritis
In 2012, another study was published investigating the effects of free radicals on cartilage degradation and the benefits of antioxidants such as vitamin E4. Bhattacharya and colleagues found that free radical activity correlated with progressive osteoarthritis. However, under the influence of vitamin E, this process was significantly slowed.
The status of various antioxidant enzymes and inflammatory markers were investigated in 40 healthy volunteers and 40 patients with osteoarthritis. The data was collected at the start of the study and three months later after a daily dose vitamin E.
The researchers found that vitamin E reduced inflammation in the joints and increased antioxidant potential. Consequently, free radicals exerted less influence on the joint. However, further studies are needed to investigate the exact effects of vitamin E and the mechanisms involved.
Vitamin E and rheumatoid arthritis
Oxygen radicals are released as a result of joint inflammation. This damages cartilage and joint structure. In such an environment, the antioxidant defence is disturbed. As a result, cartilage damage can develop in arthritis patients.
In 2011, an Iranian research group examined the concentration of various antioxidants in the blood of people with rheumatoid arthritis[1. Aryeian et al., 2011. Beta-carotene, vitamin E, MDA, glutathione reductase and aryl esterase activity levels in Patients with Active Rheumatoid Arthritis. Iranian J Publ Health 40 (2), 102-109]. They compared 59 patients with arthritis with 60 healthy volunteers. Vitamin E and carotene concentrations were determined in the serum by chromatography of the participants. Both antioxidant substances were statistically shown to decrease in the blood of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
From this, the researchers concluded that a decrease in the amount of vitamin E and other antioxidant substances in the body can promote arthritis. This is supported by other studies that have found a link between vitamin D deficiency and arthritis.
Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory properties
There is a growing interest in alternative methods for arthritis treatment using antioxidant substances. In 2012, Al-Okby published an extensive review of foods and their effects on arthritis5. Specifically, Al-Okby was interested in the concentration of inflammatory markers in the blood of patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Al-Okby examined groups of substances such as tocopherol, phenolic compounds and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It was found that inflammatory reactions and associated makers could be reduced based on diet. This research supports the idea that antioxidant substances such as vitamin E might be suitable for the treatment of rheumatic diseases.
Vitamin E is most effective in a combination therapy
There have been studies investigating the effects of vitamin E in association with other compounds on arthritis symptoms. Animal studies on mice prone to rheumatoid arthritis have examined the effects on vitamin supplementation in association with omega-3 fatty acids6.
Researchers have concluded that vitamin E may decrease pro-inflammatory cytokines and lipid mediators. However, further studies are necessary to determine optimal nutrient combinations to support healthy joints.
It has been shown that arthritis patients can benefit from increasing vitamin E intake. Vitamin E is an import antioxidant that can decrease the activity of free radicals. This can help reduce the damaging effects of oxidative stress on joint cartilage.
Since vitamin E also has anti-inflammatory properties, it may have an important role to play in the natural treatment of osteoarthritis. Unfortunately, many people don’t consume enough vitamin E in their diet.
This can assist with pain relief and improve joint mobility. However, patients can expect better results when taking vitamin E in combination with other compounds, such as omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine sulphate and chondroitin sulfate.
More research is necessary to determine the full extent of the mechanisms associated with vitamin E and both osteoarthritis as well as rheumatoid arthritis.
- Ozkanlar & Akcay. 2012. Antioxidant vitamins in atherosclerosis – animal experiments and clinical studies. Adv Clin Exp Med 21(1), 115-23
- Sutipornpalangkul et al., 2009. Lipid peroxidation, glutathione, vitamin E, and antioxidant enzymes in synovial fluid from patients with osteoarthritis. Int J Rheum Dis 12 (4), 324-8
- Haflah et al., 2009. Palm vitamin E and glucosamine sulphate in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee. Saudi Med J 30 (11), 1432-1438
- Bhattacharya et al., 2012. Efficacy of vitamin E in the management of knee osteoarthritis North Indian geriatric population. Ther Adv Musculoskelet Dis 4 (1), 11-9
- Al-Okby. , 2012. Nutraceuticals of anti-inflammatory activity as complementary therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Oct 26, doi: 10.1177/0748233712462468
- Tidow-Kebritchi & Mobarhan, 2001. Effects of diets containing fish oil and vitamin E on rheumatoid arthritis. Nutr Rev. Oct;59(10):335-8