Supplement Saturday — Vitamin E

There are many side effects and challenges that a person with cancer faces when they undergo traditional treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.  As if the cancer itself isn’t scary enough, and the treatments aren’t horrific enough, the immediate and long-lasting side effects are enough to make a sane (or at least partially sane) person go nuts!

One of the chemotherapy drugs that I was given for my breast cancer was Carboplatin, a platinum based chemotherapy drug that along with other wonderful side effects (yes, I’m being sarcastic) also caused sudden sensorineural hearing loss on my right side from ototoxicity of the drug.  What does that all mean you ask?  Well, it means that I went to bed one night with no hearing problems and woke up the next day deaf in my right ear.  I was told by several doctors that it was not likely caused by the chemotherapy since I had finished the treatment over four months prior and that in most cases the cause of SSN hearing loss is never known.  They also said that the likelihood of me regaining my hearing was not good due to the severity of the loss.  I was then prescribed prednisone, which I was told would most likely not help, and sent on my way.

Treating the cancer seemed to be the easy part for the doctors, it was treating the side effects that they didn’t like, or maybe didn’t know how to or didn’t have the time to bother with.

I spent days researching my problem and not finding much support until I stumbled upon an article citing a study done in Britain using vitamin E to cure sudden sensorineural hearing loss.  What the heck, an over the counter vitamin that I can take without a prescription….I was game.  The individuals in the study had an average onset beginning 135 days AFTER chemotherapy.  That was me.  I started taking 400IU twice a day and within one week could hear very faint sounds out of my ear.  Within three weeks the sounds were more pronounced and my hearing was definitely returning.  Within one month my hearing was restored!

I never knew that vitamin E could be such a potent antioxidant.  Vitamin E does a variety of things.  It improves skin health as it is an antioxidant agent. Vitamin E is vital for protecting the skin cells from ultraviolet light, pollution, drugs, and other elements that produce cell-damaging free radicals. It improves the ability to regulate vitamins in the body, which itself is important for healthy skin.

Vitamin E helps in the prevention of skin cancer, because of its sun protection quality and its powerful antioxidant properties. These two factors help to reduce or prevent damage by the sun. Vitamin E lotions help in preventing and treating sunburns. These lotions protect the epidermis layer of the skin from early stages of ultra violet light damage.

Vitamin E helps in a condition called Uveitis, an eye disorder. It is treated by the antioxidants in vitamin E. Uveitis is an inflammation of the uvea, the middle layer of the eye between the sclera (white outer coat of the eye) and the retina.

Vitamin E helps to prevent oxidative stress. When oxygen-containing molecules become too reactive, they can start damaging the cell structures around them. This imbalance is called oxidative stress. Vitamin E helps in such conditions by working together with a group of nutrients that prevent oxygen molecules from becoming too reactive.

A few studies have found that vitamin E helps relieve menstrual pain. Vitamin E supplements may help reduce PMS symptoms, including anxiety, craving, and depression.

Vitamin E keeps the skin young by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Free radicals are believed to play an important role in the ageing of the skin. Hence the antioxidant activity is important to address skin problems.

Studies have found that people with higher levels of vitamin E have a lower risk of heart disease. Vitamin E from foods may reduce the risk of death from stroke in post-menopausal women.

Always make sure that you are taking vitamins or supplements in the right dosage for you and in a way that will benefit your health.  Check with your health care provider if you are unsure about starting a new supplement or mixing something new to medications you are already taking.

-Kristen
Choosing healthy living over dying :)

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