Vitamin E—A Family of Eight

Vitamin EJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient composed of four tocopherols and four tocotrienols, each as alpha, beta, delta and gamma, constituting a family of eight natural isomers. Per the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tocopherols are a class of lipid-soluble compounds known for their antioxidant activities and their role in maintaining cardiovascular health. Tocopherols are important for stabilization of lipid-rich mitochondrial membranes of cells, where they protect against free radical oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids. While a lot is known about α-tocopherol, thought to be the most active of the tocopherols, tocotrienols appear to have significant antioxidant activity, and are far more bioactive than tocopherols, resulting in a variety of heath benefits. Studies have shown that the synergistic effect of all eight compounds is most advantageous for supporting health.

The major dietary sources of α-tocopherol are wheat germ, nuts and seeds, certain dark leafy greens and vegetable oils, including sunflower, safflower, corn and soybean oils. Tocotrienols are found in palm oil, annatto and rice bran oil. Largely considered to have nutraceutical properties, supplementation of tocotrienols in various population groups showed beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, immune modulation and cognitive function, as well as neuroprotection and skin defense. It appears that tocotrienols may provide valuable therapeutic and preventative options for age-related diseases, acting as potent cancer-preventive and cholesterol lowering agents. While tocotrienols share antioxidant effects with tocopherols, their anticancer actions appear unrelated to antioxidant actions.

Tocotrienols and cardiovascular disease and stroke: Tocotrienols help lower plasma cholesterol by blocking an enzyme utilized in cholesterol production. Research shows that supplementation can help to lower total serum lipids and LDL cholesterol, with the added benefit of reducing lipid oxidation, a precursor to arterial damage that leads to heart attack and stroke. Tocotrienols may improve heart muscle function, glucose and insulin tolerance, and also reduce inflammatory cells in heart muscle tissue. In addition, tocotrienols have been found to reduce homocysteine, an important contributor to cardiovascular disease. They also may reverse some symptoms of metabolic syndrome by improving lipid profiles and inhibiting new fat deposits.

Tocotrienols and neuroprotection: Normal brain activity results in oxidation, inflammation and toxicity, all factors involved in the process of cognitive decline. Studies have found that those with mild cognitive impairment are more likely to have lower blood tocopherol and tocotrienol levels than healthy people. Tocotrienols may be effective in protecting brain circuitry, as older persons with higher levels of tocotrienols have a highly reduced risk of cognitive decline. Their unique biological properties appear to show great potential as neuroprotective dietary factors.

Tocotrienols and anti-cancer properties: Tocotrienols may impact several factors involved in tumor development and growth. Tocotrienols have been shown to exhibit tumor suppressive, antiproliferative and antiangiogenic activity, helping to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells and the growth of new blood vessels in tumors. They also trigger apoptosis, programmed cell death, that shrinks existing tumors, and appear to block an enzyme required for cancer cell invasion and metastasis, the same enzyme blocked by statin drugs.

Tocotrienols are potent gene modulators of numerous enzymes involved in healthy function, helping to suppress inflammation, glycation and other processes that contribute to age-related disease development. Tocotrienols are increasingly recognized for their potential roles in cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, liver disease and neurogenerative disease, as well as osteoporosis prevention. Continuous intake of these eight compounds known collectively as vitamin E, is considered advantageous to good health and healthy aging.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality supplements in support of overall health:

E-400 Natural with...E-400 Natural with Mixed Tocopherols by Professional Supplement Center®: E-400 Natural provides pure vitamin E, as bioactive d-alpha, d-gamma and d-beta tocopherols in support of increased antioxidant activity, healthy circulation and tissue recovery. Gluten free formulation.

Delta-Fraction...Delta-Fraction Tocotrienols by NutriCology®: This powerful formula provides delta and gamma tocotrienols derived from annatto beans. This formula is designed for the maintenance of healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increased blood levels of CoQ10 and support for endothelial and metabolic functions. Free of preservatives, diluents and artificial additives. Hypoallergenic formulation.

Gamma E Mixed...Gamma E Mixed Tocopherols & Tocotrienols by Life Extension: This full spectrum formula provides all eight tocopherol and tocotrienol components of vitamin E in support of potent antioxidant protection and overall health. Tocotrienols are sourced from Malaysian red palm oil. Non-GMO formulation.

Tocotrienols, the Vitamin E of the 21st Century: It’s Potential Against Cancer and Other Chronic Diseases.
A review of characterization of tocotrienols from plant oils and foods.
Biological Properties of Tocotrienols: Evidence in Human Studies.
Tocopherols and Tocotrienols in Common and Emerging Dietary Sources: Occurrence, Applications, and Health Benefits.

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