We are all afraid of losing our mind, and our memory. It’s scary to forget what you were just saying or where you put your glasses. No one is clear about what causes memory loss or neurodegenerative brain disorders, but we do know that fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E support brain health.
Some people are actually (and sadly) afraid to take vitamin E because of a misleading study years ago that concluded vitamin E was bad for us. What a disservice that journalist did to spread the news about this famous study (which will go down in history as one of the most awful tricks to play on sick, vulnerable people)!
Many clinical trials unfortunately use synthetic (man-made) vitamin E on trial participants, which does not confer healing benefits. Would you expect it to?
They use only a fraction of the whole molecule of vitamin E called “ALPHA” tocopherol, and for this reason their results are usually bad. Well of course!!!
What do you think happens in a human trial when you don’t use the 7 other parts of vitamin E?
Think about it. Seriously, take a moment to think. This is akin to building a puzzle that consists of 8 pieces, but you only have ONE (the alpha piece). How far can you get putting together a puzzle with just one piece?
What do you think happens to humans when you give them lab-created compounds that do not match what naturally occurs in nature?
Vitamin E is awesome. It’s just as awesome as vitamin A, vitamin D and other essential nutrients that your body requires for optimal health. Because vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient it feeds and nourishes fatty tissue, especially your heart, pancreas, liver and brain. Your brain loves E, especially if you’ve had a TBI (traumatic brain injury) or other hypercoagulable conditions.
Vitamin E is like Superman for your brain unless you take a low-quality form, and then it’s like kryptonite!
Sadly there’s a lot of junk out there. Unnecessary fillers, binders, colors, excipients and even the type of isomer of your vitamin E matters.
Do you see “dl- alpha tocopherol” on your label?
You probably do, that is what 99% of vitamin E supplements contain. All synthetic forms of vitamin E are labeled with a dl- prefix. I wouldn’t put this in my body if you paid me. Now as I say that please realize I’m a self-confessed nut job when it comes to putting vitamins in my body. I’m not saying synthetic will harm you, I’m just saying I prefer natural things, that’s just me! In my experience, studies that use natural Vitamin E produce better outcomes than those that use synthetic E. It’s common sense.
Natural E has the d- prefix only (not dl-) and is easily recognized by your cells.
Synthetic E is just another chemical your body has to face.
The bigger surprise to most people is not how much we’ve been duped by synthetic E supplements (because many of you are aware of the synthetic vs. natural shenanigans). No, the bigger surprise is that ALMOST ALL vitamin E formulas contain JUST ONE isomer out of 8.
Natural E, as it occurs in nature is part of a family of 8 compounds, and alpha tocopherol is just one of them! So when you take a conventional E supplement you are only getting one-eighth of what you should be getting.
Please meet the whole fam- these are the 8 naturally-occurring isomers of vitamin E:
Newly discovered –> Alpha-Tocomonoenol & Gamma-Tocomonoenol
The only thing worse than taking one-eighth of pure vitamin E, is to take a poor quality vitamin E supplement. You end up flooding your body with one isomer, and thus depleting the other 8 forms of E. What I’m saying is that cheap vitamin E (with just the alpha portion) is a drug mugger of 7 natural constituents of vitamin E which (over time) get tilted out of balance. The more alpha tocopherol you take, the more depleted you become in the beta, delta and gamma tocopherols (and all 4 tocotrienols). Remember in E, there are 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols, so taking only a single alpha can deplete the others so to speak. The most affordable supplements (and the ones that are easy to find) unfortunately contain just 1 tocopherol (the alpha) and it’s usually synthetic (as in “dl”) to boot!
Even though these are cheap to buy, you’re better off NOT supplementing in my humble opinion, as you can set off a lot of free radical damage.
These are the less talked about puzzle pieces of natural E. Collectively speaking, the tocotrienols (all four of them) have very strong antioxidant activity. Tocotrienols are 50 – 70 times more potent than tocopherols so they penetrate deeper into fatty tissues like your brain and liver. Tocotrienols are found mostly in palm oil, soybean oil and rice bran oil with trace amounts in wheat, rye, barley, and oats (however, there is some research suggests these gluten-containing grains can harm the brain). Other sources of tocotrienols include oats, grapefruit seed oil, nuts (especially walnuts and hazelnuts) corn (maize), high-quality olive oil, buckthorn berry, flax seed oil, poppy seed oil and sunflower oil. What do you think the likelihood is you’re getting this amazing antioxidant (tocotrienols) in therapeutic amounts?
Close to zero.
To get enough, you’d have to slurp a cup of palm oil per day, or two cups of rice bran oil per day, or eat almost 3.5 pounds of wheat germ per day! Do I need to mention you should sit on the potty if you’re going to attempt this?!
No, don’t do it! A good vitamin E supplement is better. Much better. High-quality versions contain every component of vitamin E, including the 4 tocotrienols and the 4 tocopherols. Those both have four subdivisions, alpha, beta, delta, and gamma. So natural vitamin E contains 8 different parts (4 tocotrienols and 4 tocopherols). And gamma tocotrienol is the prizewinner of the bunch!
Studies prove it
Natural vitamin E supports all kinds of systems in your body, and possibly contributes to better health if you’re dealing with a complex health issue. For example, studies support vitamin E’s use for cholesterol management, for clotting problems, for certain cancers like breast and prostate cancer, and especially for brain health. Tocotrienols in particular have been shown to protect against destructive free radicals associated with chronic disease and inflammation. The bad boys I’m referring to include ROS, NF-kappa B, COX, and LOX … they have to be stopped and E can help with that. Medically, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Medications such as Namenda, Aricept, Exelon and others can lessen symptoms and perhaps even delay progression, so do as your doctor tells you, but…. unfortunately, they do nothing to quell these ‘bad-boy’ free radicals!
Let’s talk about nitric oxide for a minute…
Peroxynitrite is a dangerous oxidant that is created in activated phagocytes during infections. Phagocytes are a type of white blood cell. Peroxynitrite can be formed if you have genetic SNPs that cause you to preferentially break down nitrates into this potent neurotxoin. Peroxynitrite is pro-inflammatory, it’s a cytokine, and it’s also known to be a major player in cancer, heart disease and many neurodegenerative disorders. According to a powerful study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley, the researchers found that gamma tocopherol was required to remove peroxynitrite (and other damaging nitrogen-containing molecules). Alpha tocopherol just didn’t cut it. Simply put, gamma tocopherol (not the popular alpha portion) was a good way to reduce peroxynitrite. Perhaps, and I’m venturing out on a limb, but perhaps it could help relieve pain and neurological issues related to high peroxynitrite levels and thus allow for lower doses of analgesics. Another way to reduce mitochondrial damage to the heart is with resveratrol.
Please tell me why we didn’t hear this over a loud-speaker?!
A recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on tocotrienols should have made headline news. Why it didn’t is beyond me! I actually festered inside for hours after I read it and so I’m taking the opportunity to tell you today. Researchers know that poor mitochondrial function contributes to Alzheimer’s disease. We know that.
Mitochondria are the energy generators in you cells. You have trillions (about 3 pounds) of them.
When they malfunction or die, individuals feel fatigued, short of breath, and seem to have a higher incidence of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, MS, ALS, Huntington’s and many others. Researchers found more beta amyloid plaques with poor mitochondrial function, and the study participants had developed early stages of Alzheimer’s. The cells had poor function, low energy levels, and the cells weren’t “breathing” right.
Not good! (But good they could at least see this!)
Now, get this. They treated the dysfunctional cells for 24 hours with rice bran oil that contained tocotrienols (as well as some tocopherols). Not surprisingly, this treatment reduced the dangerous plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease! Wow, so impressive that anything natural could impact this progressive, disabling and heart-wrenching illness. I wish this was broadcast to all the world.
Did you know “gamma” tocotrienol protects mammary tissue? That is huge news to women who live in fear of breast cancer or those who have recovered. This is just one study, published back in 2005, over 10 years ago! Has anyone told you? The study title is, “Gamma tocotrienol inhibits neoplastic mammary epithelial cell proliferation …”
REPEAT- GAMMA, not alpha and certainly not dl-alpha (the synthetic kind).
Here’s another brand new study on asthma, comparing tocopherols with tocotrienols, that was very brave and smart! The researchers come right out and said, “Clinical trials of tocopherol supplementation to assess the impact of antioxidant activity in asthma have yielded equivocal results. Tocotrienol exhibits greater antioxidant activity than tocopherol in several biological phenomena in vivo and in vitro.” The favorable results were just published (May 2015) in Pulmonary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
If you go to pubmed, you can do your own research, just type in “tocotrienol” or “gamma tocotrienol” or any other component of vitamin E you wish to research. If you find a negative study, dig deeper and buy the whole study (rather than reading the free abstract they offer) and more than likely, you will see that the vitamin E used in the trial was probably synthetic. A lot of negative E studies used just one isomer, not all of them.
Things to look for when buying any Vitamin E products would be that it is natural (not synthetic) and that it contains all the tocotrienols and all the tocopherols. I’d also make sure it is free of artificial ingredients. Vitamin E brands are sold nationwide, at health food stores and online.
Make your vitamins matter, if you’re going to take them, make them count.
Feel free to leave your comments in our forum below and please share this article with any loved one who will benefit.
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.