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Vitamin E: sorting out the fact from fiction regarding supplement studies

Vitamin E
Diana Duel

There has been a lot of continuing controversy regarding the benefits (or lack thereof) in taking vitamin supplements to bolster one’s health and to even eliminate symptoms of a variety of medical conditions from heart health to prostate cancer. In fact, one of the biggest controversies has involved the use of vitamin E, with some studies stating (at worst), “that it can do more harm than good”, and (at least) it is just a “waste of money.”

Among a growing number of groups rebuking these messages as based on “junk science” is The Alliance for Natural Health USA (ANH-USA),* founded in 1992 as part of an international organization “dedicated to promoting sustainable health and freedom of choice in healthcare through good science and good law.”

According the ANH-USA, one of the biggest mistakes being perpetrated by reports published in the media is the fact that they keep “insisting on calling alpha-tocopherol “vitamin E,” states the organization’s Director of Communications Tim Reihm.

In fact, Vitamin E is actually comprised of a group of eight fat-soluble compounds that include both tocopherols and tocotrienols. Of these, y-Tocopherol is the most common form found in foods such as corn oil, soybean oil, margarine, and dressings, etc. A-tocophrols, (reported to be “the most biologically active form of vitamin E”) is the second-most common form of vitamin E in American diets, and is the type in wheat germ oil, sunflower, and safflower oils.

Too much alpha-tocopherol (generally considered to be more than 1,500 IU per day), has been linked to the risk of bleeding problems and deficiency of vitamin K.

In fact, reports by the AHN also state that excess a-tocopherol “ can interfere with your body’s use of the arguably more important gamma form. Hence studies that involve supplement alpha alone and call it vitamin E are both inaccurate and doing something that does not occur in nature. In addition, in most instances the alpha-tocopherol being tested is dl-alpha-tocopherol, which is the fully synthetic form, also not something you will ever find in nature.”

For more information regarding AHN reports on the “facts and fictions” involving this and other vitamins and supplement usage studies, readers can visit their website at http://www.anh-usa.org/