December 18, 2014

Vitamin E and Mental Function

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 vitamin E supplement form may lead to misleading results.

Finnish Study: Vitamin E and Mental Function

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

Vitamin E 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

Vitamin E 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, vitamin E is frequently removed foods that you find shelved at the grocery store. Stone ground whole wheat bread was a major source of vitamin E 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.

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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