You may have heard of vitamin E as a solution for skin issues and for heart disease, but did you know vitamin E has a powerful effect on hormones and has been shown to be an estrogen antagonist?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with several forms, with alpha-tocopherol being the most biologically active form. This fat-soluble nutrient plays an important role in vision, reproduction, brain health, and skin health. It is also an antioxidant that stops the production of reactive oxygen species formed when fat undergoes oxidation.
We mostly absorb vitamin E through the food we eat, and since vitamin E is a nutrient and an antioxidant, it’s often used in topical skincare products.
Several studies have shown that vitamin E’s therapeutic benefits may be more impactful than just a moisturizer.
One study investigated lycopene and vitamin E’s impact on prostate cancer. The study showed vitamin E “significantly reduced aromatase expression, suggesting reduced estrogen synthesis” (The FASEB Journal).
What does this mean for hormones? Vitamin E can act as an estrogen antagonist just like progesterone. This effect has important significance in regards to treating estrogen dominance, a state in which the body has too much estrogen.
Another study investigated the effect of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) on breast cancer cell growth.
“…The results of this study suggest that one of the pathways in which vitamin E inhibits breast cancer cell growth is by altering the response of cells to estrogen. This deduction is based on the following observations: 1) vitamin E inhibits ER-positive cells to a greater extent than ER-negative cells, 2) vitamin E decreases the response of ER-positive cells to different concentrations of estrogen, 3) vitamin E does not induce cell growth inhibition when estrogen is absent in the medium, 4) vitamin E decreases cell growth inhibition induced by Tam, and 5) vitamin E decreases the response to immunostaining of the ER.
…To determine whether the inhibitory effect of vitamin E was due to the direct interaction of vitamin E with estrogen, we used high concentrations of estrogen (25–100μM) to overcome the effect of vitamin E on the growth of MCF-7 cells. As shown in Fig. 5, addition of estrogen up to 100 nM did not restore the growth inhibition induced by 100μM vitamin E (Fig. 5).
…In conclusion, our study is one of the first to report the effect of vitamin E on estrogen response of breast cancer cells. It provides evidence that vitamin E (α-tocopherol) may be a new nonsteroidal environmental anti-estrogen, and a dietary supplementation of vitamin E may be a preventive measure for breast cancer. Further studies are needed to investigate the precise mechanism of growth inhibition induced by α-tocopherol in ER-positive breast cancer cells.
…The plasma vitamin E level in healthy people is about 30μM; such a level can be reached by most persons with an intake of about 100–200 IU per day (14). In human studies with double-blind protocols and in large population studies, oral vitamin E supplementation resulted in few side effects even at doses as high as 3,200 mg/day (3,200 IU/day) (15) (Nutr Cancer).”
The above study demonstrates how vitamin E can be a powerful medicine to help with hormone issues, specifically if labwork has revealed high estrogen or low progesterone.
Vitamin E is often applied directly to the skin or ingested. As with any medicine, an experienced healthcare provider should be consulted. Vitamin E can interact with other medications and for any medicine, it’s key to achieve a proper therapeutic dose. Furthermore, the quality of the substance is paramount. Many vitamin E oils are mixed with other oils, possibly comprising the quality.
Silver U, Barella L, Spitzer V, Schnorr J, Lein M, et al. Lycopene and Vitamin E interfere with autocrine/paracrine loops in the Dunning prostate cancer model. The FASEB Journal. 2004.
Chamra H, Barsky S, Ardashian A, et al. Novel interactions of vitamin E and estrogen in breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2005.
Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16091003/