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Last updated: 21 Jun 2018

Vitamin E Overview

Vitamin E is the body's primary fat soluble antioxidant. It protects cell membranes and other fatty areas of the body, such as the brain. It has proven highly beneficial in numerous conditions.

Studies show that those who consume at least 100 IU of Vitamin E have a 40% reduced risk of developing heart disease. Vitamin E prevents the oxidization of cholesterol and it is oxidized cholesterol that clogs up arteries. Another study showed a 77% drop in nonfatal heart attacks in those taking 400 to 800 IU's per day.

A study of Alzheimer's patients of moderate severity compared Vitamin E (2000 IU) with a prescription drug or a combination of both or a placebo. The study concluded that Vitamin E by itself was far superior to the others in preventing progression to severe disease: 53% lower versus 43% for the drug, and 31% for the combination therapy versus the placebo.

Vitamin E can also help prevent the immune decline seen in the aged. In one study, healthy people given 200 IU of Vitamin E daily produced six times more antibodies to vaccination with hepatitis B than those who took the placebo. Immune system improvement occurred in other areas also.

"Vitamin E" is a bit of a misleading term. There are actually eight different forms of the vitamin, four tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Most Vitamin E supplements use d-Alpha tocopherol (the natural form) or d,l Alpha tocopherol (made in a laboratory). Alpha tocopherol is only part of the story. A full range of antioxidant protection can only be achieved by using all of the tocopherols and tocotrienols together. In fact, it can be dangerous to take large amounts of Alpha tocopherol without the other fractions in much the same way as it is dangerous to take large amounts of Beta carotene without other carotenoids. Different fractions work together. Alpha tocopherol can displace Gamma tocopherol in tissues. While Alpha tocopherol inhibits the production of free radicals to some degree, it is Gamma tocopherol that is required to trap and neutralize existing free radicals.

Gamma Tocopherol is arguably the most important of the eight types of Vitamin E. One free radical that it inhibits is peroxynitrite, a powerful oxidizer that is not touched by other forms of Vitamin E. In a report in the National Academy of Sciences it was recommended that Vitamin E supplements should contain at least 20% Gamma Tocopherol. Lab tests are now available that can measure the amount of Gamma tocopherol in the body.

CAUTIONS

Toxicity is very rare.

DOSE

400 IU once/day for health maintenance, or 400 IU twice/day to correct a deficiency or in the presence of disease. Higher doses should only be used under a doctor's guidance. The benefits of Vitamin E have been shown to decline if the dose is too high.

BRANDS

The combination of Vitamin E-related supplements that I like is: Carlson E-Gems Elite 400IU (all four tocopherols, and 20mg of tocotrienols), plus Life Extension Gamma E Mixed Tocopherols (extra d-Gamma tocopherol), and Healthy Origins Tocomin SupraBio 50mg (all four tocotrienols).

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