Researchers have studied vitamin E supplements for years to see if it protects against cancer, memory, and other diseases. The problem, though, is there are 8 natural different forms of vitamin E and most studies on this nutrient involve only the use of alpha-tocopherol form, perhaps the least important of the 8 forms of vitamin E. Studying only alpha-tocopherol leads to misleading results regarding the health benefits of vitamin E.
8 Different Forms of Vitamin E
There are two main forms of vitamin E with four isomers in each class. There are 4 isomers of tocotrienols and 4 isomers of tocopherols. There is an alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocotrienol. And, there is an alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocopherol. There are 8 forms for a reason – the body needs all eight of them to function properly. So you can see why studying only one supplement form may lead to misleading results.
Finnish Study: Vitamin E and Mental Function
A recent Finnish study published in Experimental Gerontology highlights the importance of using more than alpha-tocopherol form in research studes. This study showed that higher levels of gamma-tocopherol, beta-tocotrienol, and total tocotrienols were associated with lower risk of cognitive impairment in 140 elerly Finnish studied for 8 years. Here’s a quote from the study, “Evaluating only alpha-tocopherol might therefore not provide the most accurate measure of vitamin E status in humans”.
Vitamin E Health Benefits
It is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, thus protecting inflammation that leads to chronic disease including cancer and premature aging. It also supports the cardiovascular system by protecting the endothelium (inner lining of blood vessels and maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels (function of tocotrienols).
Vitamin E Deficiency
Tocopherols and tocotrienols is found naturally in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, brussel sprouts, nuts, and seeds. Be sure to eat plenty of these foods. And here’ s why. Vitamin E will cause food to turn rancid more quickly lessening shelf life of some foods. Therefore, this vitamin is frequently removed foods that you find shelved at the grocery store.
Stone ground whole wheat bread was a major source of tocopherols and tocotrienols until the rolling mill was invented in the late 1800’s separating the wheat germ from the wheat bran leaving the kernel. Thus, a major source of this important nutrient vanished and heart disease has increased since that time. Is there a link?
Vitamin E Supplements
The gamma and delta tocotrienols are felt to be the most effective supplement form of vitamin E. But, if you look at most vitamin E supplements sold in drug and grocery stores they contain only alpha-tocopherol. Don’t buy those. Look for the words gamma, delta, or mixed tocopherols/tocotrienols.