While body builders have long said that vitamin E helps build strong muscles, the mechanism by which it may bring such benefits has been unknown -until now.
Writing in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, researchers have shown that vitamin E is essential in the repair of the plasma membranes of cells -meaning that without an adequate supply of the vitamin cells cannot repair properly after damage.
That could be a big problem for many cells, such as muscle cells, which get membrane tears just from being used, said the researchers behind the sutdy -led by Dr Paul L. McNeil at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.
«Every cell in your body has a plasma membrane, and every membrane can be torn,» said McNeil -who noted that muscle cells are constantly torn simply through being used.
«Part of how we build muscle is a more natural tearing and repair process that is the no pain, no gain portion -but if that repair doesn’t occur, what you get is muscle cell death. If that occurs over a long period of time, what you get is muscle-wasting disease,» said McNeil -who also suspects that knowing the cell membrane repair action of vitamin E has implications for muscular dystrophy, and common diabetes-related muscle weakness, as well as traumatic brain injury.
Vitamin E and health
The association between vitamin E and helathy muscles is well-established; for example, mamals and birds deprived of the vitamin experience muscle-wasting disease, which is in some cases lethal.
Indeed, a poor diet resulting in low vitamin E levels in the elderly is suggested to contribute to frailty, muscle weakness, and being more unsteady. As a result, and because of the vitamin’s well-established role as a powerful antioxidant, it is commonly used in anti-aging products.
However, exactly how vitamin E protects muscle, as well as other cell types, had been unknown until the new findings.
«This means, for the first ime, 83 years after its initial discovery,
we know what the cellular function of vitamin E is.» «And Knowing that
cellular funciton, we can now ask whether we can apply that knowledge to
medically relevant areas», commented McNeil.