Vitamin E: What runners should know about Vitamin E, free radicals, and fat-burning.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals in fat stores and membranes.
Numerous foods provide Vitamin E. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are among the best sources of Vitamin E, and significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals. 
FUNCTION IN THE BODY:
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that operates in fat stores and cell membranes. Free radicals are naturally produced in the body during metabolic activity, such as running.
HOW IT WORKS:
Vitamin E’s primarily benefit in the body is the neutralization of free radicals.
In fat (Vitamin E is fat soluble), the acidic “OH” functional group can donate a hydrogen atom resulting in a negative overall charge on Vitamin E. In the presence of a free radical (denoted by R*), Vitamin E can donate an electron to neutralize the free radical. In the process, Vitamin E now becomes a free radical. However, because of the ring structure, Vitamin E can sufficiently spread this lone electron across the molecule, creating a significantly less reactive (and safer) molecule in the body. The reaction is net favorable because the resulting Vitamin E free radical is significantly more stable / less energy than the beginning molecule.
WHY IT MATTERS FOR RUNNERS:
Vitamin E is an important vitamin for runners for several reasons:
- Neutralize Free Radicals - Runners produce, on average, 10-20x more free radicals than the average adult because of their level of metabolic activity. Therefore, runners need more antioxidants to sufficiently help neutralize these free radicals.
- Reduce Inflammation – Left unchecked, free radicals will attack muscles and cells, resulting in general inflammation throughout the body. This inflammation will limit runners’ ability to recover and affect general health over time.
- Strength Immunity – Vitamin E has been a known immunity enhancer in the general population for some time. It’s immune boosting property is related to Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties. Having a strong immune system is important for runners to maintain consistent training over time, which is necessary to build fitness. And, running high intensity and high mileage will naturally weaken the immune system. Any ability to bolster the immune system during times of depressed immunity are helpful for overall health.
Best wishes chasing your running goals!
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