Which Vitamin E Do I Need ?


Researchers at UC Berkeley discovered vitamin E in 1922, and since then countless studies have been done on this still mysterious substance.

Because its chief function seems to be as an antioxidant, neutralizing potentially harmful free radicals in the body, Vitamin E has become a superstar, as the antioxidant theory of disease gains wider and wider following in the research and medical communities. Would high doses of vitamin E prove to be the key to good health, preventing cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's, as well as producing glowing skin, good eyesight, and other benefits? Different beliefs about vitamin E supplements, range from "protective" to "useless" to "harmful." Some say nearly all the research has been flawed and recommend starting fresh using higher, and lower doses of vitamin E, and different forms of it. Like the Tocotrienol form as opposed to the most common, and nearly useless form in the market alpha tocopherol. The supplements industry has, continued to urge people to take vitamin E supplements, of course. Early studies, were mostly observational and not always well-designed, found a benefit. While later studies, many of them well-designed clinical trials have not. A few recent studies suggested that tocopherol vitamin E supplements might actually be harmful. Vitamin E is not one thing. It is eight similar but different compounds. 
These eight compounds exist naturally in your body and in a well-balanced, whole-food diet like the Mediterranean Diet. Unfortunately, most of the attention Vitamin E has received is focused on just one of these compounds, Alpha-Tocopherol. The reason is, alpha-tocopherol is the cheapest, and most easily isolated and synthesized of the eight constituents of Vitamin E, and by far the most commonly used form in supplementation. A 2007 study found that, now-discredited claims for alpha-tocopherol vitamin E persist widely on the Internet and T.V., and that even many health care professional's continue to believe them. A Johns Hopkins study of Vitamin E supplementation has called attention to erroneous assumptions by the supplementation industry. The conclusions we can draw from that study is that "more" is not always better when it comes to dietary supplementation. In the case of Vitamin E, too much can increase your chances of death from coronary heart disease (CHD). Most Vitamin E supplements—indeed, the Vitamin E supplements used in the clinical studies in the Johns Hopkins analysis—are not really Vitamin E at all. They are only one part of a complex mixture of similar molecules, all of which are present in foods high in Vitamin E.

When LDL cholesterol becomes oxidized that it becomes a problem.
Oxidized LDL cholesterol is the most important factor in getting blocked arteries. This blockage is the cause of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, phlebitis, and even strokes. As I've mentioned before, free radicals don't attack just one other molecule and fall over dead. They start a chain reaction of destruction. Vitamin E has special powers to disrupt that chain reaction, especially in the membrane. By disrupting the chain reaction at the membrane, Vitamin E keeps the membrane fluid. A fluid membrane is necessary for it to do its critically important jobs in keeping your cells, and you alive. If you're not protected by Vitamin E, cholesterol in membranes and throughout your body will become oxidized by free radicals. The survival of a cell depends on the integrity of its membrane. If a phospholipid becomes oxidized, it migrates to the surface of the membrane. The membrane structure loses its integrity and becomes leaky, a death sentence for the cell. So here's what we know:

Cardiovascular Disease: It's logical that vitamin E could help prevent heart disease because of its antioxidant properties (free radicals are believed to be a factor in atherosclerosis), but the Alpha Tocopherol supplements have not proved helpful.

Longevity: One of the benefits of making foods rich in vitamin E--nuts, seeds, spinach, mustard greens, peppers and olive oil--a part of your healthy way of eating is an up to 50% reduction in risk of developing bladder cancer, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cancer Research, Orlando, FL, May 23, 2004.

Cancer: Vitamin E has gotten a bad rap in recent years, Rutgers University researcher Chung S. Yang looked at vitamin E supplements. "Vitamin E pills usually contain the E vitamin in a form called alpha-tocopherol", Dr.Yang states. They decided instead , to focus on the form of vitamin E most common in our diets, gamma-tocopherol. It's found in nuts, fruits and veggies. He found that along with delta-tocopherols, another form of vitamin E found in vegetable oils, it helps protect against cancer.

Prostate Cancer: While the type of vitamin E usually used in supplements is alpha-tocopherol, research published in the December 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates another form of vitamin E, gamma-tocopherol, but not alpha-tocopherol, inhibits prostate cancer cell proliferation, without affecting healthy prostate cells."When animals are exposed to cancer-causing substances, the group that was fed these delta-tocopherols in their diet, had fewer and smaller tumors," Dr.Yang claimed in a press release. "When cancer cells were injected into mice these tocopherols also slowed down the development of tumors. The study found no such protective benefits from the common vitamin E supplement alpha-tocopherol.

Alzheimer's Disease: A high intake of vitamin E from food, but not from supplements (which usually contain just alpha-tocopherol) is also inversely associated with Alzheimer's disease. Rush University's Martha Clare Morris, Sc.D., lead nutrition researcher for CHAP, the Chicago Health and Aging Project, found a 67% lower risk of Alzheimer's in subjects with the highest intakes of vitamin E from food and concluded, "various tocopherol forms rather than alpha-tocopherol alone may be important in the vitamin E protective association with Alzheimer's disease."
Macular Degeneration: The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (or AREDS), sponsored by the National Eye Institute, was a landmark study that established AMD as a "nutrition responsive disorder." The study showed that a 400 IU/day intake of vitamin E, taken with antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C and zinc supplementation, slows the progression of advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) by about 25% in individuals at high-risk for the disease. Emerging science, consisting of the AREDS results and seven smaller studies, have confirmed these results.

So the bottom line is, try to get your vitamin E from food, not Alpha Tocopherol supplements. The Alpha Tocopherol supplements have not proved beneficial, and may even be risky. The tocotrienols, delta and gamma tocopherol supplements are proving to be the best.

  • Vitamin E exists naturally in eight forms (four tocopherols and four tocotrienols), of which alpha-tocotrienols are probably the most important and the most recently studied.
  • It acts as an antioxidant, it helps neutralize free radicals (oxygen molecules that can harm cells  contribute to chronic diseases).
  • It is fat-soluble, and can be stored in the body.
  • It is measured in milligrams or International Units (IU); the latter are used on supplement labels. 
  • Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, whole grains, and leafy greens supply the most vitamin E. Broccoli, tomato sauce, red peppers, carrots, and some fish are also good sources.

So there you have it,  Get your Vitamin E from good organically grown foods. Like nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggie's. A little tip though, you can still use those vitamin caps you already bought, by puncturing them with a pin and using the oil around the eye area, your hair, dry skin, and stretch marks too. Vitamin E, prevents the degradation of hyaluronic acid, which helps keep skin hydrated and slows the aging process, according to Miranda Farage, author of "The Textbook of Aging." So, don't eat those old alpha-tocopherol Vitamin E gel's wear them and Good Luck...

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