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Vitamin E Info

This is the place to find the facts on Vitamin E!

If you didn’t know that the synthetic version only contains one of the eight parts of the vitamin, then you definitely need to read this.

History of Vitamin E

This was first discovered in 1922 by Bishops and Evans when they found that rats fed on a basic diet and rancid lard failed to reproduce. They isolated the compound that caused the rats to return to fertility and called it tocopherol, which means “to bring forth offspring”.

It was named Vitamin E, or the antisterility vitamin in 1924 and alpha-tocopherol, one fraction of that complex, was first made in 1938.

What does it do?

This fat-soluble vitamin is a combination of four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols (also named alpha, beta, gamma and delta).

It’s primary role is as an antioxidant, where the vitamin binds to free radicals and renders them harmless. It’s also thought gamma tocopherol plays a role in protecting against chronic inflammatory diseases as well.

It’s the most prevalent vitamin in the body, even with 60-70% of your vitamin E being excreted daily through the faeces.

Is the synthetic version the same as the natural one?

Definitely not!

The synthetic form is one of the tocopherols only, alpha tocopherol.

Even worse, the synthetic version is mixed with alcohol to stabilise it (called esterification) to prevent oxidisation. It’s then called d-alpha-tocopherol and is a chemical derivative of soybean oil.

Now, let me ask you this.

If the vitamin’s primary role is as an antioxidant, but it has been “stabilised” to prevent oxidisation, is it still fulfilling it’s purpose?

I doubt it.

Even worse, the synthetic version is only giving you one of the eight known components (although vitamin E naturally occurs with selenium and other vitamins).

If you want to go down the total chemical route, there is an even more refined version called dl-alpha-tocopherol that is extremely cheap and forms the main component of the lower end vitamin E ranges.

The natural (whole) version will come from carefully refined wheat germ oil and dehydrated vegetables like pea plants.

My suggestion – either “go whole” or go home.

What are good food sources for Vitamin E?

Graph of food sources of Vitamin E

How much do you need?

10 IU daily, according to the Dietary Reference Intakes.

Please see this link to see why we think this is not an accurate guideline

What if I have a deficiency?

The most common symptoms of a Vitamin E deficiency are:
Impaired balance and coordination (ataxia)
Muscle weakness
Damage to the retina (pigmented retinopathy)

There is small chance that you will be lacking in gamma-tocopherol, which is very common in the western diet. You are also unlikely to develop a severe diet-related deficiency unless you have a disease that affects fat absorption.

However, many people are at sub-optimal levels of all eight of the main components and even if the deficiency isn’t showing now, it can take 10-20 years to show up after the imbalance starts.

What happens if I take too much of a synthetic version?

The most commonly reported symptoms of a synthetic version overdose are:
Slightly elevated risk of a haemorrhage (mainly for infants)

Anything else I need to know?

Some researchers claim that 99% of the nutritional value of this vitamin is taken away when it is refined into its chemical components

Back to More Facts about Vitamins from Vitamin E Information