Vitamin E, also called Tocopherol, is the second most widely taken vitamin supplement in America today. It’s popularity is well deserved.
Benefits – A Quick List
- Powerful antioxidant
- May help to slow the aging process
- May help to prevent cancer
- May help to prevent heart disease
- Helps to improves circulation
- May help to prevent cataracts
- Promotes wound healing
- Reduces scar formation
- Helps strengthen immune system
- May be helpful in treating PMS
- May prevent age spots
Symptoms of Deficiency
An E deficiency can result in damage to red blood cells and nerve destruction. Other symptoms include anemia, fragile capillaries, hemolytic anemia in infants, infertility in men and women, menstrual problems, miscarriage, neurological disturbances, neuromuscular impairment, shortened blood cell life span and uterine degeneration.
Alfalfa, bladderwrack, dandelion, dong quai, flaxseed, nettle, oat straw, raspberry leaf and rose hips.
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended daily intake for this nutrient is 30 IU, whereas for optimal health, a daily intake of 400 to 1,200 IU is sometimes advised.
Foods Containing Vitamin E
Wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, corn oil, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs, avocados.
As with many nutrients, E is lost when foods are cooked or processed. Commercially processed vegetable oils are low in E, so if you depend on vegetable oils for your E, then you should choose cold-pressed oils.
For most people getting enough E from their diet alone can be difficult, so a vitamin E supplement may be a good idea.
If you have high blood pressure you should not take high doses of E, and as with all supplements you should consult your physician before taking it. Do not take Iron supplements at the same time that you take Vitamin E.
Natural vs. Synthetic
Natural E has approximately twice the bioavailability of synthetic E. If you’re one who reads labels, natural E is shown as “d-alpha-tocopherol” and synthetic is “dl-alpha-tocopherol”.
Obviously, with twice the effectiveness, natural E is the way to go. As a general rule, cheap vitamins will usually be synthetic, and those with natural E (d-alpha-tocopherol) will probably cost a little more.
Another factor to consider is that although most research has focused on alpha-tocopherol, there are three other tocopherols (beta, gamma and delta) that are also important. Research has shown that supplementing with alpha alone can reduce levels of the other tocopherols.
So for safety and effectiveness, try to use a supplement containing all the tocopherols (it will say “mixed tocopherols” on the label). And make sure they’re natural rather than synthetic (remember “d-alpha-tocopherol” is natural, dl-alpha-tocopherol” is synthetic).
This might seem like a lot to remember – and this is only for one vitamin! Try adding several dozen more vitamins and other nutrients! Really for “normal” people (non-chemists) knowing what’s in your supplement is a challenging task. For us it comes down to finding a company you can trust – one that doesn’t substitute cheap, synthetic materials in their supplements just to make more profit.
Vitamin E Overdose
Recently (Nov.2004) there were worldwide headlines suggesting that people who take vitamin E have a higher risk of dying earlier than people who don’t.
These headlines were based on a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in November, and carried out by researchers at John Hopkins.
This was not an actual physical study, but rather a compilation of data from many studies selected by the researchers and fed into “meta-analysis” software to reach their conclusion on vitamin E overdose.
These conclusions can be highly speculative due to the variables in each study included in the analysis, such as:
- was the source of vitamin E natural or synthetic (the difference is significant)
- what was the study duration
- what was the health/disease condition of the subjects
Plus, there are other variables like the addition of other minerals and vitamins along with E, pre-existing medical conditions like cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, heart disease and others in the study participants.
It also turns out the editors of the journal where the study was published admit that the findings may not apply to healthy people. So really the study doesn’t provide definitive proof of anything due to the lack of uniform protocols and patient groups.
While we haven’t been persuaded by this single study to stop taking E, we feel that vitamins and other nutrients are generally safer and more effective when they are scientifically combined to mimic nature as much as possible. This way overdosing on a single nutrient is not an issue.