Vitamin E is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that we can’t do without. It’s known primarily as an antithrombic, preventing blood clots inside blood vessels, and as the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant, offering significant protection to the heart, brain, skin and immune system.
But as crucial as vitamin E is to our health, well-known vitamin E researcher Magrit G. Traber has reported that an estimated 90% or more Americans don’t consume enough dietary vitamin E to meet the minimal government standard of 12 milligrams (mg) a day. Meanwhile, health experts recommend hundreds of mg daily for optimal health.
Vitamin E is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats and oils, such as pure, extra-virgin olive oil. If you included all these good foods regularly in your diet, you would likely meet minimum government standards, but for optimal health Beyond Health recommends 400 IU (268 mg) a day, an amount that can only be feasibly consumed by taking a nutritional supplement.
Here’s what you need to know to supplement wisely with vitamin E
Avoid Synthetic Vitamin E
your supplement’s label. Natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha
tocopherol; synthetic as dl-alpha-tocopherol. Synthetic E is known
to be up to a third less effective than natural E and can
even interfere with the metabolism of natural E, causing a
vitamin E deficiency! Further, synthetic vitamin E can interfere
with the absorption of beta-carotene from food and lower carotene
levels in the blood.
Look for “Mixed Tocopherols”
Did you know that vitamin E comes in eight different forms, each with its own distinct benefits to your body? There are four kinds of vitamin E called tocopherols: alpha tocopherol, beta tocopherol, gamma tocopherol and delta tocopherol, and four kinds of vitamin E called tocotrienols: alpha tocotrienol, beta tocotrienol, gamma tocotrienol and delta tocotrienol.
Alpha tocopherol was discovered in 1922. For many years it was considered the only form of interest since the human body expresses a preference for alpha tocopherol, absorbing it and retaining it better than the other forms. Most vitamin E supplements contain only this form, and “alpha tocopherol” is often used interchangeably with “vitamin E.”
But more recently it’s come to light that the other three tocopherols, beta, gamma and delta, each make their own important contributions to health. It’s also been found that when you take alpha tocopherol by itself, it suppresses whatever delta and gamma tocopherols you may have gotten from your diet.
Since gamma tocopherol has important anti-inflammatory activities in the body that alpha tocopherol lacks, taking alpha-tocopherol alone could actually increase pain and inflammation in your body—not what you would hope to get from taking a dietary supplement!
In some cases, alpha needs gamma to be effective. For example, it’s been reported that alpha tocopherol and the mineral selenium were only protective against prostate cancer when gamma tocopherol was also present in high amounts.
Other studies have found that all four tocopherols must be present in a balanced formula for optimal results.
Look for an Oil-Free Vitamin E
Even natural forms of vitamin E often contain one-third to one-half vegetable oil. The only thing keeping this oil from going rancid are the antioxidants in the vitamin E, which can become depleted leading to a less potent product.
Beyond Health’s Vitamin E Formula Meets All Three Criteria
100% natural, free of oil and any other additive, Beyond Health’s Vitamin E Formula provides 400 IU of d-alpha, d-beta, d-gamma and d-delta tocopherols in a balanced formula.
Add Tocotrienols Offer More Exciting Benefits
Tocotrienol research didn’t get started until the 1980s, and they’re still considered the new kids on the block. However the laboratory and animal studies and some human clinical trials that have been done have led to such exciting discoveries that some have recommended taking tocotrienols instead of the tocopherols.
Beyond Health thinks that would be a mistake. Tocotrienols are not a replacement for tocopherols. The two are different and do different things in the body. Also, although alpha tocopherol shouldn’t be taken alone, the body seems to value it most among all the forms, and almost a century of research stands behind it.
However, we feel you could be missing out by not adding tocotrienols to your supplement program.
Studies have shown that the anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory power of tocotrienols inhibits cancer at every stage of its development, from initial gene alterations to tumor metastases. Tocotrienols protect the heart by inhibiting the development of atherosclerosis, supporting healthy blood pressure, and halting, and in many cases reversing, arterial plaque formation.
Tocotrienols, but not tocopherols, have been shown to normalize cholesterol levels in those with high cholesterol. The particular tocotrienol formulation used in the UNIQUE Tocotrienol we carry at Beyond Health was developed by vitamin E expert Dr. Barrie Tan. A study he conducted using his formulation reduced total cholesterol by 15%, LDL by 15%, and triglycerides by 20-25%. At the same time it raised HDL (the “good” cholesterol) by 4% and increased CoQ10 in the body by 20%, all without any negative side effects.
Statin drugs lower cholesterol 40-60%, considerably more than Dr. Tan’s tocotrienol formulation, but statins deplete the body of COQ10, whereas tocotrienols have a unique ability to increase its production in the body. Also, the drugs have many harmful side effects, while tocotrienols have no side effects at all.
Studies have also shown that tocotrienols fight osteoporosis by encouraging bone growth and discouraging bone degradation; support immunity, encourage weight loss, help to reduce high blood sugar and improve glucose and insulin tolerance; protect the nervous system from the damaging effects of the excitotoxin glutamate, and even, in one study increase hair growth by almost 35% in patients with alopecia.
The Right Tocotrienol Product
Dr. Tan has emphasized that it is imperative to take tocopherols and tocotrienols 6 hours apart from each other since alpha tocopherol seriously interferes with tocotrienol absorption and utilization. We suggest taking tocopherols with breakfast and tocotrienols with dinner.
However, most tocotrienol products made from palm oil or rice bran oil contain a considerable amount of tocopherol. Dr. Tan discovered that the annatto bean is a rich source of tocotrienols free of tocopherols. The UNIQUE Tocotrienol we carry at Beyond Health is made with Dr. Tan’s annatto bean formula which is high in delta tocotrienols (90%), the most potent of the tocotrienols, mixed with gamma-tocotrienols (10%), and no tocopherol content. It is effective in many ways that the palm oil and rice bran oil-based tocotrienols are not.
- Traber MG. Vitamin E inadequacy in humans: causes and consequences. Advances in Nutrition. September 2014:5(5): 503-514.
- Huang HY. Supplementation of diets with alpha-tocopherol reduces serum concentrations of gamma- and delta-tocopherol in humans. Journal of Nutrition 2003;133:3137-3140.
- Helzlsouer KJ. Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. December 2000;92(24):2018-2023.
- Tan B. Tocotrienols: Vitamin E and cardiovascular benefits after all. Townsend Letter. May 2012:85-92.
- Kooyenga DK. Antioxidants modulate the course of carotid ateriosclerosis: A four-year report, In Nesaretnam K., Packer L., eds. Micronutrients and Health. Illinois: AOCS Press, 2001:366-375.
- Tan B. Tocotrienols in cardiometabolic diseases. In Watson R., Preedy V., eds. Tocotrienols: Vitamin E Beyond Tocopherols. AOS/CRC Press 2008:257-273.
- Beoy LA. Effects of tocotrienol supplementation on hair growth in human volunteers. Tropical LifeSciences Research. December 2010;21(2):91-99