By Ben Fuchs
Of the six essential vitamins (D, E, A, K, C and the B complex) perhaps none is more misunderstood and unappreciated than Vitamin E. Originally discovered as an anti-sterility factor (tocopherol is Greek for “to bear children”), today Vitamin E is known to provide support for a wide variety of biological systems.
Unfortunately, beneficial levels of this critical fat-soluble nutrient are almost impossible to get from food. The best bets for Vitamin E-containing foods are sunflower seeds, wheat germ oil and rice bran oil. The RDA for Vitamin E is around 22 IU, and according to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, over 93% of Americans don’t even get this minimum amount. This may be one of the main reasons that health issues associated with Vitamin E deficiency are rampant.
For example, according to Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg of Tufts University , numerous studies indicate that Vitamin E can slow down the production of atherosclerotic plaques, a major cause of heart disease which is a major cause of death in this country. And earlier this week, scientists at Ohio State University published research in the journal Stroke that showed that this important nutrient can protect against stroke, a medical emergency which results in oxygen starvation of brain tissue and affects 800,000 people a year.
And there’s more. According to Dr. Patrick Manning, writing in the journal Diabetes Care, “Vitamin E could have a role to play in delaying the onset of diabetes in at-risk individuals”. Diabetes and pre-diabetes currently affect almost 100 million Americans and the numbers are climbing.
Last year, researchers published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed that Vitamin E can provide relief for many of the estimated 10 million patients who suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The author of the study, Dr. Arun J. Sanyal, Chairman of the division of gastroenterology, hepatology, and nutrition at Virginia Commonwealth University said “This clearly shows that vitamin E is effective for treatment of patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (fatty infiltration of the liver). Other studies indicate that vitamin E can help lower blood cholesterol, improve post workout muscle soreness and help provide relief from inflammatory diseases like arthritis and colitis and help reduce risks of developing cancer.
Vitamin E is available in two different classes, tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are then further divided into four subclasses: alpha, beta, delta and gamma, yielding 8 different forms of the essential nutrient. While most supplements only contain alpha tocopherol, each of the eight subclasses has slightly different biological activities. Thus for maximum benefit it may be wise to supplement with both tocopherols and tocotrienols. Look for the word “mixed” on the label as in mixed tocopherols or mixed tocotrienols. This will assure your ingestion of the full range of tocopherols and tocotrienols for the broadest spectrum of Vitamin E activity. A good daily dose is 400 i.u., although like all fatty vitamins, tocopherols and tocotrienols are stored, so missing a day or two shouldn’t be a problem.
Ben Fuchs, R.Ph. (“Pharmacist Ben”) is the talk radio host of The Bright Side on the Genesis Radio Network. The program airs live Monday – Friday, from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. CST. Or listen On Demand anytime.