I heard two women talking at the store about vitamin E. As one of the ladies pointed to her elbow, she said, “I squeeze a little out and rub it on this scar”. The other one said, “It’s better if you take it internally but if rubbing it on is working for you, then go right ahead.”
I wanted to pipe in with my two cents, but I resisted. These ladies did not know who I was, or what I do for a living, I just happened to be standing nearby examining products. I’ll settle their debate right now.
Lady #2 is correct, it is much better to take vitamin E internally by mouth. External applications might feel soothing, but you’re really just applying oil to your skin. For the most part, the oil is helping, not the E.
When you apply vitamin E to your skin, it stops right there. This is a shame because vitamin E has incredible benefits inside your body! In 2016, a groundbreaking study showed that vitamin E supplementation (along with omega-3 fatty acids) improved glucose metabolism, serum triglycericdes, and supported healthy VLDL and HDL cholesterol ratios!
Putting it on your skin won’t boost SOD or glutathione, but taking it orally just might. Maybe that’s how it helped with atopic dermatitis in mice. There was a 2016 study in which researchers concluded, “The activities of SOD [superoxide dismutase] and glutathione peroxidase in the skin and serum were also positively correlated with symptomatic changes… vitamin E may improve the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.”
In November 2016, a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience points to the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E in combination with Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and how that could improve glutathione (a detoxifying enzyme), benefiting people with serious neurological disorders like schizophrenia.
When you apply E externally, you don’t get widespread intracellular benefits to your antioxidant system. In other words, you’re wasting your softgels, because a skin application of E doesn’t work inside the fatty skin cells, where antioxidants are required.
Intracellular oxidative stress or “rusting” of your skin can occur from the sun. We all know someone with wrinkles, sun spots, precancerous cells and premature aging due to sun exposure. Sunblock plays a role in blocking the weakest rays from penetrating your skin, but no matter what you use, I am convinced that beautiful and healthy skin starts with skin-loving antioxidants.
If you really feel the need to rub vitamin E on your skin, and you have spare softgels to do that with, then it is totally fine. It could help, but an external application of E really short-changes you. I have an incredible follow-up to this article entitled: “The Truth About Natural Vitamin E.” You will learn how to find “natural” (non- synthetic) brands of E, and how to avoid fake forms. You may not realize this, but almost all vitamin E brands out there contain JUST ONE isomer out of the 8 natural ones. CLICK HERE to read that.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.