A Better Vitamin E

Health Alert 78

Your multivitamin may be short changing your health. You know that Vitamin E is a valuable nutrient. But it is important to know that there are several types of Vitamin E. Is your multivitamin providing you with all types?

Vitamin E is actually a generic name for eight separate compounds. Vitamin E denotes a group of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. In nature, they occur together.

You can get the best forms of vitamin E through your food. Fruits, vegetables, seed, and nuts are the best forms of vitamin E. Most of these foods give you the entire vitamin E “family”. The problem is that, unless you eat 2 cups of almonds every day, it is difficult to get antioxidant doses through diet alone.

All eight compounds provide individual benefits yet most multivitamins contain only alpha tocopherol (a-tocopherol). This is by far the cheapest form of vitamin E but a-tocopherol has its drawbacks.

Alpha tocopherol is not the most potent form of vitamin E. Too much of it can actually hinder the absorption of other types of vitamin E.

Gamma tocopherol and delta tocotrienol are the strongest forms of vitamin E. High amounts of a-tocopherol block absorption of these forms. The block can cause a pro-oxidant rather than an antioxidant action. This is the opposite of what a vitamin should do.

* Nutrient Oversight *

Many commercial vitamin manufacturers overlook the importance of these compounds because of cost concerns. The science behind their health benefits is very compelling. The Vitamin E “family” has been shown to:

• Extends lifespan by almost 20% in animal trials.

• Fight free radicals that cause diseases of inflammation (such as rheumatoid arthritis).

• Lower risk of heart disease by increasing blood circulation.

• Lower risk of cancers in the prostate, colon, and breast.

• Reduce LDL levels.

• Reducing risk of stroke by lessen carotenoid stenosis.

• Inhibits cancer growth.

You can’t get ultimate health benefits unless you get all of the forms of vitamin E. Look at the label of your multivitamin. Make sure that along with a-tocopherol, it contains all of the other forms.

Some vitamin makers will list each tocopherol and tocotrienol individually. Others may list all of the forms as “mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols”.

Al Sears MD