Articles by Natural Health Author Barbara Minton
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Which Vitamin E is the Right Vitamin E?
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) When Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, he didn’t say anything about supplements. Was this because supplements hadn’t yet been invented, or was it because he was even wiser than we think? At any rate, it is probably a good idea to get vitamins from eating high quality foods. If that is not possible, there are cautions to heed before buying supplements, especially supplements of Vitamin E.
Vitamin E exists in eight different forms – alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols and tocotrienols. Each of these has a slightly different action in the body. Though there are all these forms, the most biologically active form of the vitamin is known as alpha tocopheral. This is the form transported to and used by the liver. When you go to buy a bottle of Vitamin E, it’s all most a sure thing that you are getting a bottle of alpha tocopheral.
But here’s the rub. There are two versions of alpha tocopheral, a natural version and a synthetic version. Natural alpha tocopheral comes from food and enhances health. Synthetic alpha tocopheral is made not from food but from petroleum, and it does not enhance health and may actually cause harm. Obviously the synthetic version should be avoided, but this is easier said then done. Most Vitamin E available in discount, grocery, and drug stores is synthetic, as is most of it sold online. Some multivitamins contain synthetic vitamin E too.
It’s easy to determine whether a bottle of this vitamin is natural or synthetic. All you have to do is look at the label. Natural alpha tocopheral is labeled as d-alpha tocopheral. The synthetic version is labeled as dl-alpha tocopheral. The “l” denotes the product is the mirror image of the natural substance, in other words synthetic.
Natural Vitamin E as alpha-tocopherol has just one isomer. On the other hand, synthetic alpha tocopherol has eight different isomers, but only of them is identical to the natural form. This means the human body absorbs natural and synthetic versions differently. Studies have shown the natural version has much better absorption compared to the synthetic version, because specific binding and transport proteins respond well to it, while ignoring the synthetic form which ends up largely as waste.
Studies have documented this truth. One of them published back in 1997 found that it took nearly 300 mg of synthetic vitamin E to produce the same the same blood level as was achieved with just 100 mg of the real deal. That was almost 20 years ago, so why are they still making the synthetic version! In umbilical cords, natural Vitamin E produced blood levels 300% higher than the synthetic version. In addition, synthetic Vitamin E is excreted faster than the natural form. This means it has little time to work on the areas of the body where it is needed.
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Why do people need Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant compound that may help retard the aging process by aiding the body in neutralizing the harmful effects of oxidation on fats. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in fat, unlike the B vitamins and Vitamin C which dissolve in water, go directly into the blood stream and are soon expelled from the body. Fat-soluble vitamins are released into the intestinal tract, where they are absorbed through the intestinal wall into the lymph system. From there they can be used by the body or placed in storage in the liver and fat cells of the body.
The benefits of Vitamin E include the prevention and treatment of diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, such as high blood pressure, blocked or hardened arteries, and chest pains. It also acts as nature’s blood thinner. Anyone taking aspirin to prevent heart attack would be well advised to add more foods high in Vitamin E to their diet instead.
Vitamin E helps strengthen capillary walls in skin to improve moisture and elasticity, creating a younger look. Many shampoos on the market contain the vitamin because it makes hair thicker and shiny.
It helps balance the endocrine and nervous systems, bringing hormonal balance. As a result it may alleviate PMS, allergies, UTIs, anxiety, weight gain, and fatigue.
Vitamin E improves physical endurance and muscle strength, and helps defend against macular degeneration. It may slow the worsening of Alzheimer’s symptoms.
Clearly this vitamin is necessary to health. The only question remaining is how to get it. Foods containing a good amount of Vitamin E include nuts, seeds, Swiss chard, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens, kale, avocado, broccoli, parsley, papaya, olives, and plant oils.
People eating some of these foods regularly should have plenty of Vitamin E. I can speak from personal experience that adding a Vitamin E supplement to a diet rich in the vitamin can become overkill and cause weakness and lethargy from the blood becoming too thin. Think Hipprocrates!
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About the author:
Barbara is a school psychologist and the author of Dividend Capture, a book on personal finance. She is a breast cancer survivor using bioidentical hormone therapy, and a passionate advocate of natural health with hundreds of articles on many aspects of health and wellness. She is the editor and publisher of AlignLife's Health Secrets Newsletter.
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