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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