Conflicting Information About Vitamin E

Scores of studies reported that alpha-tocopherol, the regular vitamin E is beneficial - right from reducing nonfatal myocardial infarction (CHAOS Study) to a striking reduction in cardiac events in renal failure patients (SPACE Study). However, in the early part of 2001, there were a number of human clinical trials published in main stream medical journals (GISSI, ATBC, HOPE Studies, etc in The Lancet, NEJM and JAMA) which were less convincing - that natural and synthetic alpha-tocopherol had no statistically significant effects in reducing the risk of coronary artery disease or in reducing lipid peroxidation in healthy human subjects.

These recent publications prompted scientists and researchers alike to re-look and review the effectiveness of alpha-tocopherol in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in humans. One such review was recently published in the American Heart Association's Journal - Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, September 2001, entitled "Is the Emperor Wearing Clothes? Clinical Trials of Vitamin E and LDL Oxidation Hypothesis". The author, Dr. Jay Heinecke of the Department of Medicine and Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University School of Medicine, Missouri, concluded that there is little convincing evidence that alpha-tocopherol vitamin E increases antioxidant defense mechanisms in the body.

THE BOTTOM LINE - Virtually everyone has heard of Vitamin E. However, it is unfortunate that many still do not know much about it. For example, in nature there are 8 forms of Vitamin E - 4 forms of tocopherols and 4 forms of tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta- tocopherol and corresponding tocotrienols). Most people think of Vitamin E as being alpha-tocopherol alone - just one single form.

The idea that one single form of Vitamin E - alpha-tocopherol out of eight fractions is the "magic bullet" and assuming that the others are worthless denies the very fact that nature put 7 other tocopherols and tocotrienols out there for a reason. We have unfortunately used technology to prematurely pinpoint a single compound as the "magic bullet". This has caused many of us to ‘miss the boat’ as far as protection from Vitamin E is concerned.

Alpha-tocopherol as the above studies showed, is not the panacea and fails to perform as well as other tocopherols (ie : gamma-tocopherol) and tocotrienols (ie : alpha-, beta- , gamma- and delta-tocotrienol). This is another classic case of history repeating itself. Remember the beta-carotene debacle in 1996? Yet, we still make the same mistake.

Logically, the best Vitamin E formula to take is one that contains all the 8 forms of Vitamin E - the 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. The final words : "Nature Knows Best"

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