Vitamin E And Its Complex Nature

Mar 31, 2012 No Comments by

It’s the antioxidant superhero, but also the most misunderstood vitamin because of its complex¬†characteristics and different forms….

Youthfulness and antioxidant go hand in hand like bread and butter. If the body isn’t equipped with the correct balanced of antioxidants, dangerous unstable molecule called free radicals attack healthy cells and wreak havoc, causing aging, tissue damage and disease. Having an antioxidant advantage within the body will help slow down the aging process.

Are You Taking The Right Form?

When people think of antioxidant anti-aging superhero that helps prevent or delay chronic diseases associated with free radicals. But it’s a highly complex vitamin and you shouldn’t be duped into grabbing the first supplement you find on the self.
Incorrectly, vitamin E is often viewed as a single entity, but it’s actually a family of two compounds, called tocopherols and tocotrienols. These are each further broken down into four different chemical substances including alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherols and tocotrienols.

The most biologically active form of vitamin E is alpha-tocopherol, thus making it the most frequently studied and commonly used in food fortification and supplements. However, uproar erupted when studies found that high doses of alpha-tocopherol used on its own could possibly send you to an early gave. Some studies showed that, when taken without the other seven forms, alpha-tocopherol can increase the risk of heart failure and stoke and can cause excessive bleeding and interrupt blood coagulation, while having no benefit in reducing the risk of cancer as was previously believed. many experts are questioning these studies however, suggesting that several factors weren’t taken into account, such as that participants took other supplements as well, were middle-aged, already had chronic diseases and many of the studies took place in developing counties in which nutritional deficiencies are common.
Now, scientists are finding that tocotrienols are more potent than tocopherols and research is moving in that direction.

Heart Disease

Although it’s widely debated, there’s evidence that vitamin E helps prevent or delay heart disease. Studies found that the vitamin inhibits oxidants of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, thought to exacerbate atherosclerosis (blockage of the arteries). Some researchers claim that tocotrienols could possibly even reverse this blockage caused by cholesterol build-up, not merely halt its progression. It’s also been found that vitamin E could foil the formation of blood clots that could lead to deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism, which can occur when a blood clot is dislodged from the vein wall and prevents oxygenated blood travelling to the heart and brain.

However, numerous studies have also cast doubt on vitamin E’s effectiveness in preventing heart disease. Two large trials on the alpha-form of doses above 400 IU, named the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation studies v(HOPE and HOPE-TOO), found that participants on the supplement experienced no fewer cardiovascular events (heart attacks, strokes, angina or death) or hospitalisations for heart failure or chest pain. These findings were supported by the Angiographic Vitamin and Estrogen study, which actually found that risk of more severe health problems was higher in postmenopausal women taking the supplement.
Again though, questions were raised regarding the age and state of health of the study participants. It’s been suggested that further reasearch is needed to determine whether supplementing with tocotrienols has any protective value for younger, healthier people who, obviously, aren’t at risk for age-related heart disease.

Cancer

Another controversial benefit of vitamin E is its ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Several researchers have reported that tocotrienols, particularly the gamma and delta forms, possess the ability to selectively kill cancerous cells while not affecting normal, healthy cells. Many scientists report that it’s particularly beneficial against breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers.

Conversely, though, numerous follow-up studies failed to replicate these cancer fighting benefits. The HOPE-TOO study, for example, which followed men and women above the age of 55 for seven years, found no significant difference in the development of new cancers between the group supplementing with vitamin E and those taking a placebo. Although the inconsistent and limited evidence precludes any recommendations about using vitamin E supplements in the prevention of cancer, health providers haven’t yet written off the vitamin in this regard.

Eye Disorder, Wounds And Scars

Age related macular degeneration (eye disease) and cataracts are among the most common causes of vision loss in older people. Again, there are conflicting study results, but essentially, many have found that vitamin E could have a potential benefit against the risk of these aging disorders. Likewise, although still unproven, is the vitamin’s benefit is possibly helping to fast-track the healing of¬†wounds, burns and surgical scars. An Ohio State University study is still evaluating some of these possibilities.

Diabetes

The chemicals used to give flour its snowy, white look, alloxan, could actually put you at risk of diabetes, particularly if your diet is high in carbohydrates such as bread, pasta and cakes. Alloxan destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas, but animal studies have found that vitamin E can actually reverse the effects of this toxins. However, more research is needed to study the effects of vitamin E on human diabetics.

Elevating Gamma

Gamma-tocopherol-and, again, particularly the tocotrienol form – are coming to the fore as being far more valuable than the alpha forms of vitamin E as free radicals fighters. Inflammation, caused by these unstable molecules, is thought to be one of the root causes of most diseases. Scientists have found that the gamma form fights a cornucopia of diseases and is also effective in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, preventing stokes, protecting the heart and the brain, and fighting cancer, particularly prostate cancer. While alpha-tocopherol can, to some extent, inhibit free radicals generation, gamma-tocopherol is more able to trap and remove existing free radicals as well as the more toxic compounds. For example, small studies have found that it to have a certain effect against airway problems, particularly asthma and hay fever.

Living The Healthy Life

Although alpha-tocopherol is still the magic compound, research has now shown that the complete vitamin E team is much more effective. All eight forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols are essential to help the body’s defence system. The various forms of vitamin E each have a unique role, and research has found that the full spectrum of the family is needed to maximise chances of preventing and, possibly, treating many of the diseases of aging.


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