A study in Free Radical Biology & Medicine provides an explanation of how vitamin E helps maintain muscle.*

Previous research conducted by Paul McNeil and colleagues demonstrated that vitamin E promoted membrane repair in cultured cells and that oxidants inhibited it. For the current study, rats were given normal rodent chow, chow lacking vitamin E, or deficient chow plus supplemental vitamin E, then were tested in their ability to run downhill on a treadmill. Deficient animals demonstrated reduced running ability compared to normal rats and showed increased muscle cell plasma membrane permeability. Examination of their quadriceps muscle fibers revealed diminished size and greater inflammation.

“Every cell in your body has a plasma membrane, and every membrane can be torn,” Dr. McNeil explained. “Part of how we build muscle is a more natural tearing and repair process—that is the no pain, no gain portion—but if that repair doesn’t occur, what you get is muscle cell death.”

Editor’s Note: Dr. McNeil predicts that vitamin E supplementation will be used not only to improve muscle cell membrane repair in diseases such as muscular dystrophy, but as a protective measure for individuals at risk of injury.

* Free Radic Biol Med. 2015 Jul;84:246-53.

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