As an antioxidant, you're probably already aware of all of the free radical-fighting properties that vitamin E contains. Now, new research shows that vitamin E may be able to help support healthy muscles. Let's take a look at how this essential nutrient may be able to help you keep your muscles in great shape.
Background of Vitamin E
This fat-soluble nutrient is found in oils, fats and many food products. It's primarily considered an antioxidant that can aid with scavenging free radicals from the body and assisting with the production of red blood cells, which are needed for normal body function and overall health. Vitamin E is also critical for boosting immunity and providing defensive support against bacteria, viruses and sickness that may occur as a result.
While it has long been theorized that vitamin E may be able to provide some benefits for muscles, the details regarding how it accomplished this feat were mostly unknown. However, a new study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine illustrated that taking vitamin E may be able to provide support for plasma membrane repair, a process that is essential for preventing muscle breakdown. Though it may sound destructive, muscle tears need to happen in order to stimulate repair and ultimately growth. In addition to reducing the amount of free radicals in your body that may impede normal muscle healing, vitamin E may also play a part in stopping plasma membranes from leaking their contents into the body, which leads to muscle wasting--or atrophy--when it occurs over a long period of time.
This study established results based on the findings of rat observations. Rats were made to run downhill on a treadmill and they were separated into three groups based on the food they were given: normal food, food with vitamin E supplemented, and food deprived of vitamin E. The chosen exercise of running downhill on a treadmill was significant because of the level of difficult it poses for muscles, causing them to contract and lengthen at the same time; this process often incites soreness as a result. Out of the three groups of studied rats, the ones that were fed food without vitamin E exhibited a harder time running on the treadmill and punctured plasma membranes of muscle cells. The two other groups of rats--who were fed normal food and food enriched with vitamin E--were shown to have better running abilities and also showed no signs of permeated membranes.
What This Means
While more studies are needed to come to a definite conclusion regarding the specifics of just how significant a role vitamin E may play in muscle growth, the results of this study seem promising. Vitamin E supplements may be something to consider if you are a bodybuilder or athlete who is concerned about healthy muscle growth or simply maintaining the muscles you already have. Additionally, this study suggests that vitamin E supplementation may be able to be considered in the future for its connection to muscular dystrophy and muscle weakness related to diabetes.
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