Lab Creation Loose in Your Vitamin E

It’s a shame that journalists with no medical knowledge keep trying to scare you about vitamin E.

First they reported vitamin E caused lung cancer, and now it’s prostate cancer.

One patient of mine who had prostate cancer, John M., wrote me saying, “Help! I take 600 IU a day. I am in the middle of pouring through the information and am wondering… could it possibly be that the push for this vitamin has lead to prostate cancers? I am perplexed.”

Today I want to help you cut through this mess, and show you what’s really going on with vitamin E, and how you can benefit the most from it.

Vitamin E is essential for life. But the human body has no need for synthetic chemicals. And this is where the problem begins. Because most of the scientific research into the effects of vitamins use synthetically made versions in their studies. The media rarely mentions that.

Estimated daily intake of tocopherols and tocotrienols

The first problem with that is the kind they use – all-rac-alpha-tocopherol acetate. This is a lab-created look-alike that’s only half as biologically active as natural alpha tocopherol.1

And that’s only half the story.

Because what misinformed journalists and even most doctors fail to recognize is that this “Franken-vitamin” is derived using petroleum products, and is also sometimes made from genetically modified vegetable sources like corn and soy.2

What’s worse is that all-rac-alpha-tocopherol has all kinds of known toxic effects. Nausea, muscular weakness, fatigue, headache, and blurred vision are just a few of them.3

Yet most clinical trials on vitamin E give people only this synthetic clone.

You probably already know that vitamin E is really a combination of eight different forms. There are four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. In nature, they occur together, and make up the most important chain-breaking fat-soluble antioxidant we have.

It’s so powerful that they based the ORAC scale on it. You may have heard of it. The ORAC scale was developed to measure the antioxidant power of foods. And it’s based on comparing foods to the antioxidant power of vitamin E.

The ORAC scale measures the “trolox equivalent” of foods, and trolox is a vitamin E derivative.
They use it as the benchmark to measure how powerfully something can break the chain of free radical reactions.

A Better Vitamin E

You have more of the alpha tocopherol inside you than the other forms. But, you can’t just grab that, throw it in a vitamin and tell people that it’s “healthy.” These attempts to outsmart nature run into predictable problems.

For example, only giving people the alpha tocopherol can make a lack of vitamin E worse. It will keep you from absorbing enough tocotrienols. And tocotrienols are the real workhorses of the vitamin E compounds.

The reason you don’t hear about tocotrienols is many commercial vitamin manufacturers overlook them because of cost concerns. But you can’t get all the benefits unless you get all of the forms of vitamin E.

And tocotrienols have benefits that tocopherols don’t have. They give vitamin E its antioxidant punch. In fact, a new study shows gamma tocotrienol boosts your cells’ antioxidant strength by 300%.4

Plus they have a lot of heart-protective qualities. They lower C-reactive protein, a marker for heart disease, and they raise HDL. And gamma tocotrienols can protect your heart from damage and oxygen loss if you’re injured.5

One study found that tocotrienols not only stop prostate cancer cells from forming, but keep mature cancer cells from invading the prostate in the first place.6

Tocotrienols also fight both breast and pancreatic cancer,7 and cause lymphoma cells to commit suicide while protecting normal cells.8

They help lower your triglycerides, and your blood pressure. Tocotrienols also lower cholesterol by “attacking” a cholesterol-creating enzyme called HMG-CoA.9

The trick to getting all the benefits of vitamin E is to get it as close to the form nature intended as possible. There are two ways to do this.

The first way is to eat plenty of nuts, eggs, and dark leafy green vegetables. Other excellent sources are palm oil and coconut oil.

Personally, my favorite way to get tocotrienols is annatto oil. I first encountered it in the Andes Mountains. After you ascend the Andes from the east and start down into the Amazon basin, annatto grows in the foothills before you get to the dense rainforest.

Annatto oil has more tocotrienols than any other oil, including palm kernel or rice.

Annatto oil is full of tocotrienols, especially the delta tocotrienol.

The second way is to supplement, but only if you can’t get what you need through your food.

Make sure you’re not getting the synthetic version of only one form of vitamin E.

Stay away from any vitamin E labeled d-alpha or especially dl-alpha tocopherol. The “dl” means it’s synthetic, and if it only contains “alpha-tocopherol, then it’s got only one of the eight forms.

Some vitamin makers will list each tocopherol and tocotrienol individually. Others may list all of the forms as “mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols.” Try to get at least 400 IU a day, but no more than 200 IU of alpha tocopherol so that it doesn’t lessen the effects of the tocotrienols.


1 Horwitt, M. "Relative biological values of d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate and all-rac- alpha-tocopheryl acetate inman."Am Journal Clin Nutri. 1980, Vol 33, 1856-1860.
2 "Vitamin E (Tocopherol)." GMO Compass. Retrieved Dec 8, 2011.
3 "Vitamin E." Toxicology Data Network. Retrieved Dec 8, 2011.
4 Nowak G, Bakajsova D, Hayes C, Hauer-Jensen M, Compadre CM. "γ-Tocotrienol Protects Against Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Renal Cell Death." J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2011 Oct 31.
5 Das M, Das S, Wang P, Powell S, Das D. "Caveolin and proteasome in tocotrienol mediated myocardial protection." Cell Physiol Biochem. 2008;22(1-4):287-94.
6 Luk SU, et. al. "Gamma-tocotrienol as an effective agent in targeting prostate cancer stem cell-like population." Int J Cancer. May 2011;128(9):2182-91.
7 Shirode A, Sylvester P. "Mechanisms Mediating the Synergistic Anticancer Effects of Combined γ-Tocotrienol and Celecoxib Treatment.” J Bioanal Biomed. Jan 2011;3:1-7.
8 Wilankar C, et. al. "γ-Tocotrienol Induces Apoptosis in Human T Cell Lymphoma through Activation of Both Intrinsic and Extrinsic Pathways." Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(21):2176-89.
9 Schaffer, Sebastian, Müller, Walter E. and Eckert, Gunter P., “Tocotrienols: Constitutional Effects in Aging and Disease,” J. Nutr. 2005; 135:151-154