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Vitamin E for good blood circulation?

Blood circulation plays a major role in the body's functioning, particularly in transporting oxygen and nutrients to various organs and cells. Maintaining the cardiovascular system is, of course, dependent on lifestyle habits, but it can also be bolstered by certain active ingredients. Is Vitamin E one of them? Discover here if this molecule helps to improve blood circulation.

Summary
Published April 22, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 5 min read

How does Vitamin E affect blood circulation?

First isolated in 1936, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that consists of a group of eight molecules: 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. Although it is not synthesized by the body, it is an essential nutrient for the body. Indeed, as an antioxidant, vitamin E has a protective role for the body and the skin by neutralizing free radicals before they can damage cells and organs. Vitamin E is primarily obtained through diet and is particularly present in vegetable oils (sunflower oil, olive oil...), nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds...) and seafood (mussels, shrimp...). Vitamin E is also found in various cosmetic products.

Beyond its major antioxidant function, vitamin E also plays a role in blood circulation. This molecule indeed has vasodilatory properties and is known to increase the production of nitric oxide (NO) by the endothelial cells of blood vessels. NO induces a relaxation of the smooth muscles of the vessels, which promotes blood flow. Furthermore, tocopherols inhibit the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol by free radicals, thus limiting the formation of atheroma plaques. These fatty plaques present on the walls of arteries hinder blood circulation and are the main cause of atherosclerosis, a disease that can quickly lead to life-threatening complications, such as heart failure or a stroke.

It has also been demonstrated that vitamin E can increase the production of vasodilator prostaglandins in the endothelial cells of the aorta. Belonging to the subfamily of eicosanoids, prostaglandins are lipids involved in the regulation of the inflammatory response. The biological mechanisms at work are still under study, but scientists suspect an effect of vitamin E on phospholipase A2 and on cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), enzymes involved in the synthesis of prostaglandins.

Finally, vitamin E enhances the membrane fluidity of red blood cells, which optimizes their deformability and circulation in the capillaries. This molecule also inhibits the release of thromboxane A2 (TXA2) by platelets, which are vasoconstrictors that induce platelet aggregation. In doing so, vitamin E limits the formation of clots and ensures a certain blood fluidity, essential for good cardiovascular health. Numerous epidemiological studies have indeed shown a link between a low dietary intake of vitamin E and the onset of coronary diseases.

Note : While the benefits of orally ingested vitamin E on blood circulation are well-documented, evidence is currently lacking regarding its effects when applied topically.

Vitamin E and blood circulation: the benefits for skin and hair.

The importance of optimizing blood circulation through vitamin E is not only relevant in the medical field but also extends to the cosmetic sphere. Indeed, it has several beneficial roles for the skin and hair, including the role of delivering nutrients and oxygen. Like other cells in the body, skin cells need nutrients and oxygen to perform their function and promote effective cellular renewal and good synthesis of collagen and elastin, among other things. Moreover, when the blood circulation is slowed or disrupted, several discomforts can appear, including feelings of heavy legs, cramps, a change in skin color, bluish dark circles, delays in the healing process, or even a decrease in local body temperature.

Regarding hair, good blood circulation in the scalp helps to support the anagen phase, or hair growth phase. Indeed, the keratinocytes present in the hair follicles need the trace elements brought by the blood to produce keratin and assemble to form a hair shaft. Moreover, the elimination of waste from the hair bulb, preventing potential obstructions of the follicles, could not occur without good blood circulation.

Note : These are indirect consequences of vitamin E intake. To date, no study has been conducted to show that vitamin E intake can combat heavy legs or support hair growth. It has only been proven that this molecule improves blood circulation, an element necessary for the skin and hair.

Sources

  • PANGANAMALA R. V. & al. Modulation of platelet thromboxane A2 and arterial prostacyclin by dietary vitamin E. Prostaglandins (1981).

  • LIND L. & al. Relationships between Endothelium-Dependent Vasodilation, Serum Vitamin E and Plasma Isoprostane 8-Iso-PGF2α Levels in Healthy Subjects. Journal of Vascular Research (1999).

  • NIKBIN MEYDANI S. & al. Vitamin E Enhances Production of Vasodilator Prostanoids in Human Aortic Endothelial Cells via Contrasting Effects on Cyclooxygenase-2 and Phospholipase A2. The Journal of Nutrition (2005).

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