Vitamin E is used both as an oral supplement and as a topical preparation in a variety of dermatological conditions. It is a popular ingredient in many moisturising preparations used to alleviate dry and cracked skin, assist in the repair of abrasions, burns, grazes and skin lesions, prevent stretch marks and diminish scar tissue. Vitamin E oil is used as a stand-alone preparation or incorporated into a cream or ointment base for these purposes.
Sunburn protection Topical application of 1 % alpha-tocopherol provided significant protection against erythema and sunburn in an experimental model. When combined with 1 5% ascorbic acid, the protective effect was enhanced (Lin et al 2003). Further improvements were seen when ferulic acid was added to the alpha-tocopherol (1%) and ascorbic acid (15%) solution, as this substance improves chemical stability of the antioxidants and doubles the photoprotective effect (Lin et al 2005).
Once again, it appears that not all forms of vitamin E exert a significant protective effect (McVean & Liebler 1999). According to an in vivo study, a 5% dispersion of alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol or delta-tocopherol in a neutral cream vehicle © 2007 Elsevier Australia
produced a statistically significant inhibition of thymine dimer formation, whereas alpha-tocopherol acetate and alpha-tocopherol methyl ether had no effect. Further research revealed that gamma-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol were 5- to 10-fold less potent than alpha-tocopherol (McVean & Liebler 1997).
A comparison between topical vitamin E and C has demonstrated that vitamin E affords better protection against UVB radiation, whereas vitamin C is superior against UVA radiation (Baumann & Spencer 1999).
Although most research has focused on topical use, oral administration of a combination of high-dose vitamin E and C increases the threshold to erythema. The first study to show that the systemic administration of vitamins C and E reduces the sunburn reaction in humans was a small double-blind placebo-controlled trial that used ascorbic acid (2 g/day) combined with D-alpha-tocopherol (1000 lU/day) (Eberlein-Konig et al 1998). The effect was seen after 8 days. The next was a 50-day study of 40 volunteers (20-47 years old) that showed that supplemental vitamin E (2 g/day) and C (3 g/day) protected against sunburn and resulted in increased vitamin E levels in keratinocytes (Fuchs & Kern 1998). This was once again confirmed in a controlled study of 45 healthy volunteers (Mireles-Rocha et al 2002). The doses used were lower in this study, 1200 IU/day of D-alpha-tocopherol in combination with vitamin C (2 g/day).
Scar tissue Although vitamin E is widely used to diminish the appearance of scars, a small double-blind study of 1 5 patients who had undergone skin cancer removal found that applying an emollient preparation known as Aquaphor with added vitamin E after surgery either had no effect or worsened the appearance of scars compared with Aquaphor alone (Baumann & Spencer 1999). A larger study of 80 people with hypertrophic scars and keloids found that treatment with vitamin E and silicone gel sheets was successful in scar treatment (Palmieri et al 1995). After 2 months, 95% of patients receiving vitamin E and gel sheet treatment had improved by 50%, whereas 75% had improved by 50% without vitamin E.
Based on experimental and clinical data, it ¡swell established that oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation is increased in the substantia nigra of people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and this may play an important role in the disease's aetiology. As such, vitamin E has been the focus of research as a potential treatment. Using both in vitro and in vivo experimental model systems for PD, studies have demonstrated both vitamin E-mediated protection and lack of protection (Fariss & Zhang 2003). Similarly, conflicting results have been obtained for vitamin E supplementation in the prevention and treatment of clinical PD. An open study using high doses of both © 2007 Elsevier Australia
tocopherol (3200 Ul/day) and ascorbic acid (3000 mg/day) delayed the use of levodopa or dopamine agonists for 2 years In subjects with early PD (Fahn 1992). In contrast, the Deprenyl and Tocopherol Antloxldatlve Therapy of Parkinsonism (DATATOP) study found no effect on the progression of disability with alpha-tocopherol 2000 lU/day (Parkinson Study Group 1996). The same study found vitamin E had no effect on mortality (Parkinson Study Group 1998).
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Rosacea and Eczema are two skin conditions that are fairly commonly found throughout the world. Each of them is characterized by different features, and can be both discomfiting as well as result in undesirable appearance features. In a nutshell, theyre problems that many would want to deal with.