The most active part of vitamin E is the gamma tocopherols as well as tocotrienols. Unfortunately, most vitamin E supplements do not contain ANY of these ingredients, and the ones that do, utilize very small amounts of them – just enough to list them on the label for advertising purposes. This formula contains 400mg of gamma tocopherols and 38mg of tocotrienols. ‡
Vitamin E consists of 8 separate but related molecules: 4 tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta and gamma) and 4 tocotrienols (also alpha, beta, delta and gamma). These molecules have slightly different chemical structures, but are all considered antioxidants.
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Here's How They Work
Tocotrienols protect each one of our 37 trillion cells from oxidation. Poor diet, smoking and stress are all examples of things that cause oxidation (the process in which a cell becomes unstable – think of the flesh of an apple after you take a bite, it turns brown).
Over 90% of oxidation protection must come from either tocotrienols or tocopherols. Tocotrienols are the better choice as they have been shown to provide 40-60 times more protection than tocopherols, especially delta-tocotrienols.
Chronic health conditions stem from too much oxidation of the cells. Therefore, as we age, it is important to supplement with tocotrienols as it is the best known protector of cellular health.
Why are tocotrienols so effective?
If you were to examine vitamin E under a microscope you would find a simple but profound difference between its two main molecule groups, the tocotrienols and the tocopherols. Tocotrienols are smaller and more agile, allowing them to move around the body 50 times faster than tocopherols. This incredible speed and agility make tocotrienols the superior antioxidant.
Recent studies indicate that gamma-tocopherol may be important to human health and that it possesses unique features that distinguish it from alpha-tocopherol. gamma-Tocopherol appears to be a more effective trap for lipophilic electrophiles than is alpha-tocopherol. gamma-Tocopherol is well absorbed and accumulates to a significant degree in some human tissues; it is metabolized, however, largely to 2,7,8-trimethyl-2-(beta-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxychroman (gamma-CEHC), which is mainly excreted in the urine. gamma-CEHC, but not the corresponding metabolite derived from alpha-tocopherol, has natriuretic activity that may be of physiologic importance.
Both gamma-tocopherol and gamma-CEHC, but not alpha-tocopherol, inhibit cyclooxygenase activity and, thus, possess anti-inflammatory properties. Some human and animal studies indicate that plasma concentrations of gamma-tocopherol are inversely associated with the incidence of cardiovascular disease and prostate challenges.
These distinguishing features of gamma-tocopherol and its metabolite suggest that gamma-tocopherol may contribute significantly to human health in ways not recognized previously. This possibility should be further evaluated, especially considering that high doses of alpha-tocopherol deplete plasma and tissue gamma-tocopherol, in contrast with supplementation with gamma-tocopherol, which increases both.
We review current information on the bioavailability, metabolism, chemistry, and nonantioxidant activities of gamma-tocopherol and epidemiologic data concerning the relation between gamma-tocopherol and cardiovascular disease and abnormal cell proliferation.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition - 2001 Dec;74(6):714-22. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/74.6.714.
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‡ These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.