"Just stick with natural and not synthetic Vitamin E, 400 units a day, and you'll be fine," he replied. And yet, even while I took his advice, there were continued reports of problems plaguing this potentially very important antioxidant.
That's why I read with interest the reports about new work on another form of Vitamin E, one that is getting some serious attention due to its effects, in animals, of reducing blood vessel growth--particularly, the blood vessels that feed cancer cells.
Tocotrienol, the less well-known form of vitamin E, could prevent the formation of these new blood vessels, and therefore it holds promise against a range of diseases. Japanese researchers looked at the ability of tocotrienol to prevent angiogenesis, associated with tumor growth, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetic retinopathy:
"Our findings suggest that tocotrienol has potential as a therapeutic dietary supplement for preventing angiogenic disorders, and therefore continued clinical study will be required to evaluate the efficacy and safety of tocotrienol," wrote the researchers in the Journal of Nutrition, August 2007 edition.There are eight forms of vitamin E, which is why it can be so confusing. There are four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.
The researchers' studies found that tocotrienol was effective at inhibiting angiogenesis (the growth of vessels) in both bovine aortic endothelial cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells.
While the majority of research on vitamin E has focused on alpha-Toc, studies into tocotrienols account for less than one per cent of all research into vitamin E. Tocotrienols are only minor components in plants, although several sources with relatively high levels include palm oil, cereal grains and rice bran.
Tocotrienols got a lot of press earlier this week when a researcher from Ohio State University told attendees at the Institute of Food Technology gathering in Chicago that this form of vitamin E shows great potential against neurodegenerative diseases as well.
It seems as if we'll be hearing more about new types of Vitamin E supplementation shortly down the road. My guess is that they will first show up in products available through Doctor's offices (those who have their own dispensaries, such as holistic MD's, Chiropractors and Naturopaths).