Why You Should Be Taking Vitamin E!

"Vitamin E – a powerful antioxidant known to slow aging and protect against heart disease and various forms of cancer"  Dr.Nicholas Perricone

Right there, in that quote Dr Perricone gives us three powerful reasons to make sure that we get a good supply of vitamin E.

Because vitamins protect us

They protect our immune system, boost our energy and even strengthen our skin, bones and other tissues.

And in 1922 a new group of natural chemicals was discovered which was called "Vitamin E". It was found to  protect the reproductive system in laboratory animals so it was called the "Anti-sterility" vitamin.

Researchers found abnormalities in the reproduction of rats which could be fixed when they were fed  lettuce or wheat germ oil. Something in these foods was working as a fertility factor and that unknown something was Vitamin E.

So that's how Vitamin E got a reputation for boosting fertility and its technical scientific name became a combo of two Greek words "Tokos" meaning "offspring" and "pheros" meaning "to bear" which go together as "Tocopherol" – where the "c" is sounded as a letter "k".

But Vitamin E was not to be confined to fertility, later discoveries were to enlarge its power and multiply its uses.

In 1936 wheat germ oil which has a rich supply of vitamin E was found to cure angina.

And in the 1940s two Canadian Doctors, Evan and Wilfred Shute found great success by using doses of alpha-tocopherol between 800 iu and 1600 iu daily to treat their patients with circulation problems such as claudication and heart disease including atherosclerosis.

Often they would start on a low dose of 90 iu – International Units and gradually work up to doses that reversed the symptoms of angina pain, high blood pressure or other symptoms.

Naturally over the years with such an unusual record of success they treated thousands of patients. And you might expect an eager acceptance in the medical community for pioneering such innovative treatment…

Not a bit of it.

They faced outright rejection, hostility and faced measures to keep their work from publication and even stop vitamin E being delivered via the Post Office!

The record of blind rejection of vitamin cures was and continues to be shameful. Mercifully a small number of medical doctors rebelled against establishment bias and the knowledge grew and spread into the community.

Finally on this point it must be said that medical authorities and pharmaceutical companies continue even now to lobby to restrict usage of natural non drug alternatives.

Natural cures after all generate less profit.

Would the Real Vitamin E Please Stand Up?

So you have decided to be open minded and to get some vitamin E. Scanning the shelves at the health store you find several products with vitamin E in them.

Which one do you buy? And what dose do you need?

And what does all this stuff on the label mean ?

  • d Alpha Tocopherol
  • dl alpha tocopherol
  • mixed tocopherols
  • Tocotrienols?

So is there 1 vitamin E or 4 vitamin Es? Or more?

Eight Pieces In the vitamin E Puzzle

Buying Vitamin supplements can be confusing so in this section I want to lay out what to look for when you read that label on the bottle in the health store.

Because vitamin E is a molecule it has a scientific name.

And you need to know this name so you can get the correct, safe and effective Vitamin in your multi or other supplements.

And now it helps to take a few seconds look at vitamin B before we move on with our story on Vitamin E that is what we'll do …

When vitamin researchers discovered that vitamin B had many parts they made it sound simple by giving them numbers; so we talk about Vitamins B1, B2, B3 and so on and the whole caboodle of B vitamins was then called B Complex.

And that made things easier to handle for non-scientists.

We don't do that for vitamin E for some reason; we don't have nice simple numbers like E1, E2, E3 and so on and we don't call the whole vitamin "E complex"

What we say is that 4 of the versions we have of vitamin E belong to a group called the Tocopherols. And then the different flavours of tocopherol were labelled alpha, beta, gamma and delta.

So you'll see these on labels of vitamin products in the health store – alpha tocopherol or one of its "cousins",  beta tocopherol or gamma tocopherol or delta  tocopherol.

All the members of this little tocopherol family are called vitamin E and they all have different strengths or levels of activity.

As well as the 4 members of the vitamin E group of chemicals called tocopherols there are 4 others called tocotrienols.

That's "toco, try, en, ols."

And each of them has a label too so we get alpha, beta, gamma and delta versions giving us alpha tocotrienol, beta tocotrienol, gamma tocotrienol and finally delta tocotrienol.

Sheesh!

And these versions of vitamin E add to the 4 others giving us 8 types of natural vitamin E altogether!

Now that we know that what we call vitamin E is really a mix of 8 natural chemicals found in a healthy diet,  we can use that knowledge.

We can use it to choose to include the foods with vitamin E in our meals and we can choose a good supplement of vitamin E to supplement or add to our diet – let's discuss both now, starting with our diet.

Best Foods for Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in wheat germ oil, nuts and a few vegetable oils. The best sources can be seen here in this handy table.

Food

National Institutes of Health,

US, website.

Milligrams (mg)
per serving

Percent of DV*

(Daily Value)

Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon

20.3

100

Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1 ounce

7.4

37

Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce

6.8

34

Sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon

5.6

28

Safflower oil, 1 tablespoon

4.6

25

Hazelnuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce

4.3

22

Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons

2.9

15

Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce

2.2

11

Corn oil, 1 tablespoon

1.9

10

Spinach, boiled, ½ cup

1.9

10

Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup

1.2

6

Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon

1.1

6

Kiwifruit, 1 medium

1.1

6

Mango, sliced, ½ cup

0.7

4

Tomato, raw, 1 medium

0.7

4

Spinach, raw, 1 cup

0.6

3

 

Each country has it's official recommended values for daily intake which for the US is taken as 30 iu which comes out at about 20 mg.

And to put that in context the therapeutic values used by Doctors to treat angina, intermittent claudication and heart disease vary from 400 to 1600 iu and you might wonder why Medical authorities all round the world think that the recommendations they make are so low when the effective levels are much higher.

Let's look at this for vitamin C. This is the vitamin that prevents us getting scurvy – which was a major killer when soldiers, sailors and other were provided with a diet with little or no fresh fruit or vegetables.

A mere 60 mg is all it takes for protection from this killer disease and that is the "Official" recommendation.

But if you take higher doses such as 3,000 mg then vitamin C also helps to protect you from viral illness and at even higher doses it helps clean and clear our arteries and protect us from heart disease.

And these facts are ignored in the official advice which is purely focussed on avoiding scurvy.

The doses used by modern Naturopaths and Nutritionists are designed to help us enjoy the best level of health we can and not just to avoid basic diseases.

For example I take 3,000 mg of vitamin C daily and have done for 30 healthy years!

Now back to vitamin E…

How To Choose the "Right"  Vitamin E supplements

Before we jump into specifics remember that vitamin E is a powerfully effective supplement and if you are taking any medication you must run it past your healthcare professional. Be especially cautious about mixing pharmaceuticals and natural remedies because sometimes they combine and produce a much bigger effect than you want and sometimes they fight!

When we are shopping for a Vitamin E supplement what we need is a supplement that is

A decent dose – enough to make something happen!

Ever heard the media trumpet that this vitamin or that has been found to be useless or no better than placebo? It is common and is often due to the researchers using a dose of the vitamin that is way too low.

They may use 10 iu when they should be using 100 iu.

So how much should we take? Take a look at this:

 women who had taken at least 100 IU of Vitamin E daily for two years had a 46 percent lower risk of having an heart attack. This was based on a population study involving 87,245 women   http://rense.com/general38/e.htm

 

For vitamin E we are generally looking for 100 to 400 iu daily

A proper blend of the various Vitamin Es.

Most vitamin E supplements only have alpha tocopherol which is only 1 of the 8 pieces of the vitamin E puzzle and often even that is an artificial man made form of the vitamin not found in nature. The natural form is written as d alpha tocopherol and the manmade or synthetic form is dl alpha tocopherol – the letter d and l at the beginning is the clue that all is not quite right!

Another thing! We want Tocopherol but looking at labels of bestselling supplements we may find Tocopheryl Acetate which is an artificial or synthetic form of the vitamin. http://is.gd/V8Kl3L

Put it down and move right along! Keep looking!

In the Now Foods product we read the label and it say, "unesterified d alpha tocopherol" which is the natural form of the alpha version and below that we see a blend of the beta, gamma and delta forms.

So that is a pretty decent product with all 4 tocopherols but no tocotrienols – do we give them a score of 50% and tell them to keep trying?

Same with Solgar!

In a perfect world we would choose an E with all 8 bits of the vitamin.

You might find such a perfect supplement but a very good compromise is this one which has 7 of the 8 pieces and the practical part of me says – just take some wheat germ daily to get the missing bit!

Well I found a supplement that has all 8 parts.

It is the Now Advanced Gamma E Complex

And a full spectrum ( yes all 8!) supplement from the Life Extension Foundation

And from Jarrow too

Jarrow Formulas Famil-E, 60 Softgels http://amzn.com/B0013OSI5G

And at Vitacost http://www.vitacost.com/vitacost-vitamin-e-tocotrienol-complex-60-liquid-vegetarian-capsules-1

Affordable

This depends on the dose we buy, the number of tablets or capsules and the quality too. Sometimes a cheap supplement will be OK and sometimes you just need to spend a little more to get the right blend or amount.

Suits us

Are you following a special diet? If you need a Kosher or Vegan or anti-allergenic diet then you have some extra shopping time and label reading and something I recommend may not be quite right.

And it must be said that manufacturers often state on the box that their product is for example vegan and then the label discloses fish oil inside.

I think this is stupidity and not conspiracy but it underlines the fact that you must check this stuff carefully.

The Heart of the Matter

Vitamin E is the major oil soluble vitamin protecting our arteries, blood cells and all cell membranes. Although the tocopherols have had some 90% of the attention from researchers and doctors the tocotrineols are now getting some much needed publicity and seem to be better protectors against cancer then their tocopherol cousins.

It may even be true that we need to supplement these nutrients separately to avoid them interfering with each other so yes I recommend a full spectrum supplement for vitamin E Complex.

I totally believe that we should focus on a well-balanced and healthy Mediterranean diet to benefit from a full natural range of the many supplements nature provides in a healthy diet.

AuthorAlex Newell ND

I love learning and being healthy so as soon as I came across Yoga, read and practised to get the health benefits. When I was approaching middle age my health declined under the onslaught o stress and possibly poor diet, I had a perfect opportunity to learn more and I qualified in both Osteopathy and Naturopathy. Our health really is in our own hands and not in the hands of "The Doctor" or our Genes :-)

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