Vitamin E. Dear Vitamin E. Always forgotten. Vitamin E has been used to alleviate symptoms in many of us humans over the past decades. In the past, it has got bad press in the conventional medical field. The major problem is thought to be that human and animal studies use only one of eight forms of the vitamin E complex, demonstrating a lack of understanding of what the vitamin actually is and how its biochemistry works in the body. We do know that supplementing alpha-tocopherol alone could be detrimental. The weird part is the doses in the negative studies are below commonly recognized therapeutic doses. The other problem seems to be incredibly imaginative extrapolations of statistics. Small numbers seem to add up to sweeping generalizations. This is unfortunately common when the poor active ingredient has no monetary incentives to offer. The upshot is vitamin E has been poorly utilized because of incomplete examination of its biochemistry, and crappy studies. In the past. The studies are getting better!
So the eight forms of the molecule are alpha, beta, delta, and gamma of both tocopherols and tocotrienols: four of each. They are used differently by different parts of your body. When shopping you need a mix of all eight in one capsule: the good supplements specify the "gamma"s. There are many supplements out there that contain only "alpha tocopherol". The alpha alone does not have the health benefits we are looking for, but is most abundant in the blood. This is why the alpha's get to be in all the studies. The other ones disappear into the cells, so are harder to measure.
This vitamin E complex is a fat soluble antioxidant. If you have degradation in a lipid (fatty) system, this is what you need. The aqueous insides of the cell is contained by a fatty lipid layer, or membrane. Your skin has a wonderful layer of fat. Your brain cells are cushioned in fat (then a bowl of water, then a helmet of bone, then an afro if you're lucky). Think about blood flow. The corners of arteries and fast pumping heart get clogged with solid fats. Smooth oil sounds better, does it not? The lining of your inner arteries, when injured, get patched up with fats: cholesterol mainly. Scabs of plaques clog and block. Bad. Most of us know the story of strokes and heart disease. Lets put some smooth oily Vitamin E on that, heal up the little tear in your hard working artery, and keep the pipes open. Done. Did your mother ever put vitamin E on your scabs? Same thing.
Vitamin E is awesome for coronary artery disease, skin health, and hormones. Sex hormones are fats. Thyroid hormones also need vitamin E to work. And Kidneys...don't forget the glomerulus in your kidneys. Those cells with fatty walls make up the intricate filters (think mom's lace) in your dear kidneys. A little vitamin E does wonders for them. Remember how you should be cautious about taking vitamin C when you have kidney problems? This is when you take vitamin E.
Fun fact - Vitamin E and Vitamin C actually convert to each other in the body. I have to stop there or I'll have to dig up biochemistry and retitle this light hearted blog "A lugubrious dialogue detailing the superfluous minutiae of tocopherols and tocotrienols in Homo sapiens, and its plasticity in regards to its good friend, ascorbic acid."
Food wise these mixed tocopherols are high in oily raw nuts, and vegetable oils. Raw nuts and seeds are higher in Vitamin E than roasted. Sunflower seeds and almonds are great. You will find some in peanuts and peanut butter. Most peanuts you'll find are roasted of course and that's okay, you'll get some. Peanut butter with icing sugar is not okay. Peanut butter can be a good source of protein and fats on your morning toast, but that nutritional value can be adulterated by a sugar and hydrogenated oil hit that makes it junky. Read the ingredients. More on this in a coming blog!
Conclusion: If you are healthy, keep up the oils and nuts in your diet. Oils at room temperature are excellent. If you are fixing a health issue, you may consider Vitamin E in capsules. The kicker with this one is there is no upper limit or known toxicity level. More actual quality unbiased studies needed. I find 400I.U. (268mg's) daily once or twice is quite effective clinically for treating an issue, or for prevention if warranted, but we don't know what happens if you crank up the dose way past that. So far we know the blood gets nice and thin, and some notice easier bruising. Other than that it is super safe. No need to crank the dose anyways on your own. The Health Canada website names 1,490 I.U. (1,000mg's) as an "Upper Limit". Playing it safe. Please check in with a doc if you are on drugs before you start something new. Even a slippery sweet misunderstood one like vitamin E.
"Vitamin E might increase risk of death", according to an MD who teaches Radiation Oncology, and a clinician-scientist who works at a cancer center. 9 references dated from 2000 to 2004.
"Vitamin E" From the Institute of Medicine (US) Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds. Dietary Reference intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. National Academies Press (US) 2000.
- This is a thorough review of the studies up to that date. 300 plus references used in the Vitamin E section alone. No negative health effects validated with supplementing vitamin E at recommended dosages.
"Vitamin E and its anticancer effects." a review, recognizing the 8 forms and their varying functions. 2019.
"Vitamin E Therapy Beyond Cancer: Tocopherol versus Tocotrienol." 2016. The abstract summarizes things well.
"Vitamin E - The Next 100 Years" another review in 2019.