ScienceDaily (Dec. 20, 2011) — It's rubbed on the skin to reduce signs of aging and consumed by athletes to improve endurance but scientists now have the first evidence of one of vitamin E's normal body functions. The powerful antioxidant found in most foods helps repair tears in the plasma membranes that protect cells from outside forces and screen what enters and exits, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report in the journal Nature Communications. Everyday activities such as eating and exercise can tear the plasma membrane and the new research shows that vitamin E is essential to repair. Without repair of muscle cells, for example, muscles eventually waste away and die in a process similar to what occurs in muscular dystrophy. Muscle weakness also is a common complaint in diabetes, another condition associated with inadequate plasma membrane repair. "Without any special effort we consume vitamin E every day and we don't even know what it does in our bodies," said Dr. Paul McNeil, GHSU cell biologist and the study's corresponding author. He now feels confident about at least one of its jobs. Full article here.