(NaturalNews) It's no wonder muscle aches and pains can be not only uncomfortable but also result in significant impairment. After all, about half of your body mass is made up of skeletal muscles and chronic inflammation of those muscles can be agonizing. But University of Illinois research has demonstrated that the antioxidant properties of Vitamin E may be able to put a damper on the cause of ongoing inflammation.
Here's how: Cytokines are regulatory proteins that are released by cells of the immune system to act as intercellular mediators when an immune response is needed. This is a desirable and natural part of the immune system, as long as the cytokine response isn't excessive or "stuck", resulting in chronic inflammation. The new research, just published in the December issue of the journal Experimental Physiology, suggests Vitamin E could keep many of these cytokines in check, thereby easing inflammation throughout the body.
The study marks the first time researchers have looked at the effects of Vitamin E administration on local inflammatory responses in skeletal and cardiac muscle in animals. The research team included Rodney Johnson, a University of Illinois professor of animal sciences whose previous work has suggested a possible link between short-term Vitamin E supplementation and a reduction in brain inflammation. The scientists examined the impact Vitamin E had on three specific pro-inflammatory cytokines -- interleukin (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) and IL-1beta -- and compared the results to those an inactive placebo produced. One group of mice in the study were administered Vitamin E for three days and then injected with a low dose of E. coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to induce a minor systemic bacterial infection that caused inflammation. A control group received a placebo instead of the vitamin. The researchers found that the mice who had received Vitamin E had a significant decrease in two of the inflammation-causing cytokines, IL-6 and IL-1beta.
The researchers decided to also look at the amount of oxidized proteins in muscles. The reason? Oxidation in muscles has been associated with reduced muscle strength. Once again, the Vitamin E treated animals came out ahead. They had far better muscle function than the mice in the control group.
"There was a significant reduction in the amount of LPS-induced oxidized proteins with Vitamin E compared to placebo. So that's a good thing. Potentially, if you reduce the oxidized proteins, that may correlate to increased muscle strength," University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Kimberly Huey, who headed the study, said in a statement to the media.
Although more research is needed to see how these findings may apply to people, Huey also said that Vitamin E "may be beneficial in individuals with chronic inflammation, such as the elderly or patients with type II diabetes or chronic heart failure. Vitamin E is a supplement that is already approved, and these results may suggest an additional benefit of taking Vitamin E beyond what's already been shown."
About the author
Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA’s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic’s "Men’s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.