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Taking Vitamin E in the Form of Alpha-Tocopherol Only
May Reduce Gamma-, and Delta-Tocopherol Levels
March 29, 2004

Powerful Anti-Oxidant and Anti-Thrombic
Almost everyone today has heard of vitamin E. It has been heavily researched and found to be very beneficial in the prevention of platelet aggregation, internal clotting of the blood, and thickening of the blood. It is also a powerful anti-oxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals and strongly inhibits peroxynitrite which is very damaging to cells. Vitamin E has found to be useful in such areas as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, fibrocystic breast disease, and menopausal symptoms.

New Research
It seems like every year more information about our bodies are being discovered and how nutrients interact with them. For example, a group of researchers at John Hopkins University have found that taking vitamin E as an esterified form, d-alpha-tocopherol acetate may reduce the levels of gamma- and delta-tocopherols.

Researchers Comments
“Despite promising evidence from in vitro experiments and observational studies, supplementation of diets with alpha-tocopherol has not reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer in most large-scale clinical trials.” In their report the researchers wrote, “One plausible explanation is that the potential health benefits of alpha-tocopherol supplements are offset by deleterious changes in bioavailability and/or bioactivity of other nutrients.”

Researchers Test Their Theory (Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 133, Oct:3137-40 2003)
Researchers took 184 adult non-smokers and had some of them take 400 IU/d of vitamin E as RRR-alpha-tocopherol acetate which is an esterified form of alpha-tocopherol, while others were given a placebo for two months. At the end of the two month period the researchers measured the changes in the blood concentrations of gamma- and delta-tocopherol before the study began. When compared with subjects who took the placebo the ones who took the alpha-tocopherol supplements had reduced blood levels of gamma-tocopherol concentrations an average of 58%. Also, the ones who had detectable levels of delta-tocopherol concentrations had been reduced.

Conclusion of Study
It was concluded that taking vitamin E in the form of an esterified alpha-tocopherol acetate only may not be effective due to its lowering blood levels of the other three vitamin E isomers, beta-, and delta- gamma tocopherols-. This finding has lead the researchers of the study to state that continued research is needed.

Professor Agrees with John Hopkins Researchers
President of YASOO Health Inc., Andreas Papas, Ph.D. and adjunct professor at the College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University and senior scientific advisor at the Institute Harvard School of Epidemiology, concurs with the findings of the Johns Hopkins researchers. Professor Papas stated, “Taking the whole complex is the way to get the full benefit of vitamin E. That is now becoming a quite a mainstream thesis.”

Natural Mixed Vitamin E is Best
While vitamin E is an important nutrient we must take it in a form that is the most active in the fullest spectrum possible for providing the widest range of health benefits, especially as an anti-oxidant.

First, the Vitamin E Should Be All Natural
This can be determined on the bottle by a d on the label such as d-alpha-tocopherol. This means the natural form of E rotates a plane of light to the right, the same direction the human cells rotate. If the label lists an L, such as dl-tocopherol, it would be a synthetic form of vitamin E and the plane of light rotates to the left not being readily identified by our tissues. Synthetic E has only 30 to 60% of the biological activity of the natural E. (1)

Second, the All Natural Vitamin E Should Be in an Unesterified Form
That means that the other isomers, or esters, such as d-beta-, d-delta- and d-gamma-tocopherols are still intact. An esterified form of vitamin E has the three other natural tocopherols removed leaving just the d-alpha-tocopherol form. This produces an imbalance in the body of the other three esters resulting in poor antioxidant protection and biological activity.

While d-alpha-tocopherol is the most active and heavily studied, it is important to remember that the d-beta-, d-delta- and d-gamma-tocopherols augment, d-alpha-tocopherol’s activity. (2) An example of this is found in a study of men with coronary artery disease. In this study the researchers discovered that d-alpha-tocopherol was quite adequate with d-gamma-tocopherol being low, indicating that the d-gamma-tocopherol may be as vital as d-alpha-tocopherol in preventing heart disease. (3)

Tocotrienols
Other esters of natural vitamin E are called alpha, beta, delta, and gamma tocotrienols, some of which the body converts to the tocopherols. At one time they were not considered to be of any importance but the benefits of the tocotrienols are coming to light. For example, while alpha-tocotrienol is 70% less active in the human body than alpha-tocopherol, it has been discovered to exhibit greater antitumor activity. (4)

What Form of Vitamin E Is Best - Fat or Water Soluble?
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition with severe pancreatic insufficiency and fat malabsorption creating a deficiency of fat -soluble vitamins, including E. Because of this physicians prescribe only the water-soluble form of vitamin E to these patients. But in a double-blind study of cystic fibrosis patients comparing the fat-soluble form of vitamin E they found that the patients received results that were just as good as with the water-soluble E. (5)

Selecting A Vitamin E Supplement
When choosing a natural form of vitamin E select one that is unesterified with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols for the greatest overall benefits. Esterified vitamin E in the forms of d-alpha-tocopherol acetate or d-alpha-tocopherol succinate would not have any antioxidant activity and would suppress any d-gamma-tocopherol present naturally in your body, the natural part of the vitamin E that does exhibit antioxidant activity


References:
1. Marion, Joseph B., Anti-Aging Manual, The Encyclopedia of Natural Health, South Woodstock, CT: Information Pioneers, 1996 p. 44
2 - 5. Michael T. Murray, N.D., Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements 1996, p. 46