8 Natural Forms of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is not a single vitamin but rather a group of 8 structurally similar vitamin E compounds which together are referred to as the vitamin E complex. This complex is comprised of 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols, each of which is distinguished by the prefix alpha, beta, gamma or delta. All forms of vitamin E have independent effects on the body and are not interchangeable.
Although natural foods always contain a mixture of different tocopherols and tocotrienols, research has so far focused on alpha-tocopherol, as this form is preferentially metabolised by the body and found in the bloodstream in the highest concentrations.
Most recent studies reveal, however, that the other tocotrienols and tocopherols have many completely independent properties. In particular, studies show that α-tocotrienol, γ-tocopherol and δ-tocotrienol have effects that are distinctly different from those of α-tocopherol. These results suggest that members of the vitamin E family are not interchangeable in terms of their biological functions, and that each vitamin E compound fulfils its own particular tasks. A supplement which supplies all forms of vitamin E thus best corresponds to the natural vitamin E intake of humans.
Health Benefits of Vitamin E
According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), vitamin E contributes to:
- The protection of cells against oxidative stress