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Is Your Vitamin E Natural?


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Alpha tocopherol is the scientific name for the form of vitamin E that our bodies use. There are other varieties such as beta, gamma, and delta tocopherols (often called "mixed" tocopherols) which exist in nature along with alpha tocopherol. Studies indicate that mixed tocopherols increase the vitamin E activity of D-alpha tocopherol.

Biochemically speaking, vitamin E can be either right or left handed. This is indicated with the letters D and L. The form that exists in our food and the form that our bodies need is the D form: D-alpha tocopherol. The L form does not work in our bodies.

Synthetic vitamin E is not the same as natural vitamin E and has lower biological activity. When vitamin E is made synthetically a mixture of the D and L forms is automatically produced and cannot be separated. This is called DL-alpha tocopherol and, although much less expensive than natural D-alpha tocopherol, is not biologically active. In fact, recent scientific studies have indicated that synthetic vitamin E does not stay in the body nearly as long as natural vitamin E, making it a much less effective protector.

Vitamin E in its "raw" state (D-alpha tocopherol) is in oil form. If it is put into tablets or hard gelatin capsules it must be esterified. That means that a natural carrier must be added, such as acetate or succinate. These esterified forms are written as D-alpha tocopheryl acetate or D-alpha tocopheryl succinate. Since the carrier breaks down when ingested, esterified vitamin E is still considered natural as long as the D is present versus the DL. Look for the Natural Source Vitamin E Association (NSVEA) logo on the label if you want this type of a natural vitamin E.

According to Dr. Bruce West of Health Alert, "all store-bought vitamin E is simply the small antioxidant portion of the whole nutritional complex" so one must not try to solve a vitamin E deficiency with "tocopherols of any type." He uses a real, whole vitamin E complex called "Cataplex E2" from Standard Process Labs. He says, "Cataplex E2 is the live essence of vitamin E -- rich plants and proteins like pea plants, beet roots, liver, adrenal, and more. These include the naturally occurring nutritional counterparts -- trace mineral activators, enzymes, etc.-- all preserved in a patented process designed to retain the live integrity of the plant and animal nutrition. In contrast, tocopherols are synthetically produced from tar or industrially stripped away from corn oil."

According to new research, avocados are the richest fruit source of vitamin E, followed by the kiwi, nectarines, grapes, and then peaches. Avocados are also the best fruit source of lutein, the compound that protects against cataract formation and macular degeneration. [Nut Week 01;31(24):7]


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