Alpha Tocopherol Does Not Reduce Heart Disease Risk. What is the alternative?
A new review of research on vitamin E (published this week in the Arch Intern Med. 2004;164:1552-1556) in the treatment and prevention of heart disease shows vitamin E had no significant effect in reducing the risk of heart attack or heart-related death.
In this study, researchers reviewed seven large clinical trials involving more than 100,000 people on the effectiveness of vitamin E therapy in preventing or treating heart disease. Researchers found six out of seven studies showed no significant effect of vitamin E on heart disease. Overall, the studies showed that vitamin E had no effect on reducing the risk of nonfatal heart attack, stroke, or heart-related death. The vitamin E used in these seven studies was in the form of alpha-tocopherol - a single form.
Perhaps, it is time for us to look beyond alpha-tocopherol - the form of vitamin E that was used in these seven clinical studies. Tocopherol is not the only form of vitamin E that occurs in nature. There are 8 forms of vitamin E in nature - 4 forms of tocopherols and 4 forms of tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol and corresponding tocotrienols). The idea that one single form of vitamin E – alpha-tocopherol out of eight fractions is the “magic” vitamin E and assuming that the other forms are worthless denies the very fact that nature put these seven other tocopherols and tocotrienols out there for a reason.
Alpha-tocopherol, however, is the form of vitamin E that is essential to preventing an outright vitamin E deficiency, although for industrialized countries, that is a pretty remote possibility. Obtaining the optimum and full benefits of vitamin E intake may not be a matter of favoring alpha or gamma, but getting a combination of the tocopherols and tocotrienols – the full spectrum vitamin E complex as found in nature.
Gamma-tocopherol for example has been shown to be more potent in arresting nitrogen peroxide free radicals compared to alpha-tocopherol. 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, as well as key oxidizing agents that generate free radicals.
In one of the latest published studies, researchers at the University of Uppsala, Sweden found that mixed tocopherol (alpha, gamma and delta-tocopherol) showed a significantly stronger inhibitory effect on lipid peroxidation in human erythrocytes.
It is also interesting to note that gamma-tocopherol is the major form of vitamin E found in our diet.
On the other hand, tocotrienols are "the new kids on the block". The term vitamin E is now considered to be the generic name describing both the tocopherols and tocotrienols. However, tocopherols and tocotrienols are distinguished by their side chain. While tocopherol has a saturated phytyl tail, tocotrienol possesses an unsaturated isoprenoid side chain. Tocopherols are generally present in common vegetable oils (i.e. soy, canola, wheat germ, sunflower), whereas tocotrienols, on the other hand, are concentrated in cereal grains (i.e. oat, barley, and rye, rice bran), with the richest source found in fruits of palm.
Numerous peer-reviewed studies have shown that tocotrienol complex extracted from palm fruits has unique biological properties that are not associated with tocopherols. Besides being a more potent antioxidant (40-60 times more potent than alpha-tocopherol), palm tocotrienol complex has been proven to reduce total serum cholesterol in human by inhibiting the production of LDL-cholesterol in the liver. A human clinical study at the Kenneth Jordan Heart Foundation, New Jersey and Elmhurst Medical Center, New York showed that palm tocotrienol complex has the ability to reverse arterial blockage in Carotid Stenosis patients within 6 months of supplementation.
A recent NIH-funded study carried out at the Ohio State University Medical Center found that Tocomin® palm tocotrienol complex to be much more potent in preventing glutame-induced neurodegeneration. This is an exciting new frontier for tocotrienol research especially for brain health and protection.
In nature, almost all of the plants and oils contain naturally a mixture of the vitamin E isomers. It rarely consists of only one single form of vitamin E. Most of them either contain a mixture of tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol) or a mixture of tocotrienols (alpha, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol) or more often, a mixture of both the tocopherols and tocotrienols.
“Look for the right Vitamin E supplement that contains all the eight forms of vitamin E (d-mixed tocopherols and d-mixed tocotrienols) – as the most complete and balanced vitamin E formulation for overall and optimum health benefits,” said WH Leong, Vice President for Carotech Inc, the first and leading supplier of natural full spectrum palm tocotrienol complex in the world."
“Tocomin® palm tocotrienol complex provides all the four isomer of tocotrienols in significant level,” Leong added
For further information on tocotrienol, please visit the educational website for tocotrienol : www.tocotrienol.org
Tel : +1-732-906-1901
Email : [email protected]