As a protective antioxidant, we know vitamin E is especially beneficial to the brain, and all other parts of the body. But as more research on the vitamin is released, some doctors have gone so far as to call vitamin E an “overlooked nutrient” for good reason — most people don’t realise how critical this simple vitamin is for human health.
While we encourage you to read all health studies thoroughly before deciding which supplements to use, the collective body of vitamin E research can be particularly confusing at first glance. There are plenty of studies published on fat-soluble vitamin E, yet much of the research focuses on the most popular or well-known form of vitamin E: tocopherols.
Natural vitamin E actually exists as eight compounds, a collection of tocopherols and tocotrienols with antioxidant properties. Research frequently cites vitamin E tocopherols, while vitamin E tocotrienols are overlooked. The difference between the many forms of vitamin E is crystal-clear — compared to tocopherols, vitamin E tocotrienols may be up to 300 percent better absorbed and better utilised by the body.
A 2013 study from the University of Eastern Finland found, after examining the blood serum levels of vitamin E y-tocopherol, ß-tocotrienol, and total tocotrienols in elderly Finnish people, that those with high vitamin E serum levels were less likely to suffer from memory disorders. 1. In this study, the whole vitamin E family provided such benefits, not just the widely publicised tocopherol form of vitamin E.
In a standalone study focused on tocotrienols given to mice with pancreatic cancer, 70 percent of the mice that took tocotrienols survived the rapidly progressing cancer compared to 10 percent of the control group. 2 Tocotrienols have also been found to reduce homocysteine levels in the blood as an important risk factor for heart disease. In a 2013 study, in protecting the heart than the B vitamins already known to be a natural reducer of high homocysteine. 3
DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME ON THE ‘WRONG’ VITAMIN E
It’s evident that tocotrienols have something that vitamin E tocopherols lack. When comparing the different forms of vitamin E in 2014, UK researchers concluded, “As a minor component of vitamin E, tocotrienols were evident in exhibiting biological activities such as neuroprotection, radio-protection, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and lipid lowering properties which are not shared by tocopherols. “4 Researchers added that continued studies on tocotrienol absorption may be needed.
Taking a blend of tocotrienols could solve this absorption problem, according to a Journal of Nutrition study published in 2012. A tocotrienol blend supplement, taken orally, showed a marked increase in vitamin E levels in vital organs and tissues — increasing alpha-tocotrienol in every vital organ that was tested, including the brain. And compared to tocopherols in this study, tocotrienols triumphed once again: An oral tocotrienol blend supplement yielded a 50 percent reduction for end-stage liver disease scores, versus only a 20 percent reduction for liver patients who took oral tocopherols.5
1. Mangialasche, E, Solomon, A., Kåreholt, I, Hooshmand, B., Cecchetti, R, Fratiglioni, L, Soininen, H., Laatikainen, T., Mecocci, P and Kivipelto, M. 2013. Serum levels ofvitamin E forms and risk of cognitive impairment in a Finnish cohort of older adults. Experimental Gerontology, 48 (12) p. 1428 DOI: 10.1016/j. exger.2013.09.006.
2 Husain, K. Centeno, B. Chen, D. T, Hingoranj, S. sebti, S. M. and Malafa, M. p. 2013 Oct Vitamin E delta-tocotrienol prolongs survival in the Cre (KPC) transgenic mouse model of pancreatic cancer. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 6(10) pp. 1074-
3. Notsidah, K Z, Asmadi, A. Y. Azizi, A, Faizah, Q and Kamisah, Y 2013 Sept Palm tocotrienol-rich fraction reduced plasma homocysteine and heat oxidative stress in ratsfed with a high-methionine diet J Physiol Biochem. 69(3) pp. 441-9,
4.Fu,J. Y, H. L, Tan, D. M. Y. and Teng,K T 2014, Bioavailability of tocotrienols: evidence in human studies Nutrition & Metabolism. 11:5. doj:10.1186/1743-7075-11-5.
5 Patel, V.. Rink, C.. Gordillo, G. Khanna, S, Gnyawalj, U, Roy S, Shneket; BY Canesh, Phillips, G., More, J. L, Sarkart A, Kirkpatrick, R, Elkhammas, E. A, Klatte, E., Miller, Firstenberg M. S.. Chiocca, E. A, Nesaretnam. K., Sen, C. K 2012 Man Oral tocotrienols are transported to human tissues and delay the progression of the model for end-stage liver disease score in patients. J Nutr. 142(3) pp. 513-9. doi: 10.3945/jn.111.151902. Epub 2012 Feb 1.