I’m sure you’ve read a lot about the connection between obesity and nutrition. It’s become an enormous area of research due to the staggering overweight and obesity statistics in the United States and other developed countries around the world.
As of this writing, more than 67% of American adults and more than 17% of American young people are considered overweight or obese.67% of American adults and more than 17% of American young people are considered obese. #Obesity&NutritionClick To Tweet
Currently, more than 1-in-3 American adults suffer from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the diagnosis when a patient presents with several specific conditions.
- High blood pressure
- High blood sugar
- Large waist size (excess fat concentrated in the mid-section)
- Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride readings
This condition is known to substantially increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s so the extremely high number of people dealing with it is particularly disturbing for our long-term health outlook.
Since there are no actual symptoms of metabolic syndrome, you might not know you have it until there is a diagnosis of another problem such as diabetes or a heart condition.
Your risk increases as you get older but the primary causes of metabolic syndrome are obesity (specifically around the abdomen) and living a sedentary lifestyle.
Obesity, Nutrition, and What’s Missing
Obesity is one of the most destructive (and preventable) diseases of modern society. Not only does it impact quality of life and basic functions of your body, it drastically decreases life span.
Usually, health writers focus on what to take out of your diet and not nearly enough about what your body is probably desperate to get that you need to add to what you’re eating.
Studies have found that obese individuals with metabolic syndrome are deficient in vitamin E – something that never used to be a problem.
This fat-soluble vitamin is abundant in a variety of foods like leafy greens (kale, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and greens), avocados, fatty fish (wild salmon), nuts (especially almonds and hazelnuts), red peppers, and sunflower seeds. It’s easier for your body to absorb it if you pair it with a fat – such as a bit of oil on your salad.
Researchers with the Linus Paulding Institute at Oregon State University determined that obese patients require more vitamin E than patients of average weight to deal with higher levels of oxidative stress.Did you know, obese patients require more vitamin E than patients of average weight? #Obesity&NutritionClick To Tweet
Unfortunately, the bodies of obese individuals struggle to utilize vitamin E effectively. They theorize that it’s because vitamin E is fat-soluble.
Maret Traber, professor and a principal investigator at the Linus Pauling Institute, explained, “Vitamin E is associated with lipids, or the fats found in the blood, a micronutrient that’s going along for the ride. What we found was that tissues of obese people are rejecting intake of some of these lipids because they already have enough fat. In the process they also reject the associated vitamin E. So even though the tissues are facing serious oxidative stress, the delivery of vitamin E to them is being impaired, and they are not getting enough of this important micronutrient.”
One of the biggest discoveries in the studies of obesity and nutrition is that obesity greatly escalates oxidative and metabolic stress. Antioxidants found in food (vitamin E and many others) help to alleviate the potential damage caused by these mechanisms.
Experts estimate that approximately 92% of Americans get half (or less) of the vitamin E they should be getting in their diets.
Professor Traber pointed out a potential connection there as well. “When people try to lose weight, often the first thing they do is limit their fat intake. This may make sense if you are trying to reduce calories, but fat is the most common source of vitamin E in our diets, so that approach to weight loss can sometimes actually worsen a nutrient deficiency.”
If you maintain a healthy weight and eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, starches, nuts, and seeds, it’s unlikely that you’re lacking in vitamin E.
However, if you’re struggling with significant extra pounds or suspect you might not be getting sufficient vitamin E in your current diet, it’s worth adding this essential micronutrient to your eating plan or (if you know you’re not going to change your diet) adding a quality supplement.
Vitamin E and Liver Disease
Researchers with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine published their findings in American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Cleveland Clinic and Cornell University collaborated on the research.
They determined that vitamin E can improve symptoms of the most severe form of non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD) known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
PhD and associate professor at Case Western, Danny Manor, explained, “Our findings could have a direct impact on the lives of the approximately 63 million Americans who are at potential risk for developing obesity-related liver disease in their lifetimes.”
The team’s use of liver tissue to practice surgical procedures led to the accidental discovery. Conditions like NAFLD and NASH result when too much fat, oxidative stress, and inflammation accumulate in the liver. Over time, this causes permanent scarring that leads to cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and premature death.
Vitamin E’s ability to relieve the symptoms associated with NASH are ground-breaking. Manor stated, “Supplementation with vitamin E averted the majority of NASH-related symptoms in these animals, confirming the relationship between vitamin E deficiency and liver disease. The vast majority of adults in the United States do not consume the amount of vitamin E recommended by the National Institute of Medicine.”
Over the years, vitamin E has been shown to offer tissue protection and lower disease risk. However, the way it works can be difficult to figure out.
The Take Away
If you’re part of the one-third of adults who are overweight or the one-third struggling with obesity, nutrition in the form of vitamin E is not only critical – you need more of it than you realize. You can get it through your diet but if you know you won’t – supplement!For the 1/3 of adults who are overweight, nutrition in the form of vitamin E is critical! #Obesity&NutritionClick To Tweet
Obese people need more vitamin E, but actually get less. (2017). ScienceDaily.
Metabolic syndrome – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic. (2017). Mayoclinic.org.
20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin E. (2017). Healthline.
Obese people need more vitamin E, but actually get less | News and Research Communications | Oregon State University. (2017). Oregonstate.edu.
Vitamin E Identified as Potential Weapon Against Obesity. (2017). Todaysdietitian.com.