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Vitamin E supplements have been generally advised to improve the antioxidant status and prevent the occurrence of numerous disorders.

Effects on Cells

Aging is one of the factors that tend to slow down the functioning of various organs in our body. This hampers the ability of the body to function at the same rate and vigour as during early and middle adulthood. Similar changes are noticed in the organs involved in regulating the immune system. Studies conducted on elderly individuals have proven the effect and it was noted that vitamin E supplementation in these individuals significantly improved the functioning of the cells and tissues of the immune system. Vitamin E had an impact on the genes that are responsible for the progression of cell cycles. The supplementation of vitamin E resulted in increased functioning of the cells of the immune system. Furthermore, it was also reported that vitamin E has a role in the regulation of the cell membrane and interactions between individual cells.

Effects on Thymus and T-cells

The T-lymphocytes (T-cells) carry out the function of destroying the microorganisms recognised by the immune system. The immature cells of T-lymphocytes are formed in the bone marrow. These immature cells then travel to the thymus gland where they undergo differentiation and maturation to form the T-lymphocytes. The function of the thymus gland is critical as improper functioning can affect the formation of T- lymphocytes. Vitamin E plays a vital role in the maturation process of the T-cells in the thymus gland. A deficiency of vitamin E affects the maturation of T-cells resulting in the decrease of the immune resistance. Further, vitamin E also has a role in the recovery of the thymus gland from injuries. A study conducted in China also revealed that vitamin E protects the T-cells against oxidative stress that tends to destroy the T-cells prematurely.

Aging and Vitamin E

One of the effects of aging on the immune system is decrease in the functioning of the T- cells. It has been noted that a decline in the T-cell function is one of causes for the progression of immune related disorders such as arthritis and cancer. Further, a deficiency in immune function also makes the elderly individuals more prone to infections. The decrease in the ability of the T-cells to perform well has been attributed to the deficiency of vitamin E. It was noted that administration of vitamin E supplements in elderly individuals significantly improved the T-cell functioning and also decreased the risk of progression of numerous age related disorders.

  • 1. Han SN, Adolfsson O, Lee CK, Prolla TA, Ordovas J, Meydani SN. Vitamin E and gene expression in immune cells. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Dec, 1031:96-101
  • 2. Moriguchi S, Muraga M. Vitamin E and immunity. Vitam Horm. 2000, 59:305-36
  • 3. Lee CY, Man-Fan Wan J. Vitamin E supplementation improves cell-mediated immunity and oxidative stress of Asian men and women. J Nutr. 2000 Dec,130(12):2932-7
  • 4. Serafini M. Dietary vitamin E and T cell-mediated function in the elderly: effectiveness and mechanism of action. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2000 Jul-Aug, 18(4-5):401-10.