>Vitamin E Supplement - Alpha or Gamma Tocopherol ?

>Vitamin E Supplement - Alpha or Gamma Tocopherol ?

Scientists have unanimously agree that free radicals damage cells and contribute to common diseases associated with aging. As people age, they produce more free radicals that inflict damage to cellular DNA, mitochondria and cell membranes. This results in illnesses.

Health-conscious people today consume antioxidant supplements such like Vitamin E to help neutralize free radicals. When vitamin E was discovered in 1922, scientists mistakenly concluded that of the four tocopherol family members (alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma tocopherol), only alpha tocopherol provided some measurable benefits. So for the next 70 - 80 years, vitamin E supplements contained only alpha tocopherol. It is therefore not surprising that early clinical trials to examine vitamin E's ability to prevent disease were carried out using only alpha tocopherol.

But when scientists started examining other members of the vitamin E family, one in particular - gamma tocopherol - was found to possess several unique properties. Although gamma tocopherol is not as powerful an antioxidant as alpha tocopherol, it is the only member of the tocopherol family capable of neutralizing reactive nitrogen free radicals like peroxynitrite and nitrogen dioxide. Generated by inflammation, these dangerous nitrogen free radicals are implicated in a host of degenerative illnesses, including atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. Research discovered that gamma tocopherol reduces inflammation by inhibiting prostaglandin E2.

In addition to inhibiting chronic inflammation, gamma tocopherol exerts additional non-antioxidant effects to prevent cancer. Gamma tocopherol is believed to prevent colon cancer by inhibiting the formation of mutagens produced by oxidized fecal fats, while decreasing oxidative damage to the epithelial cells of the colon. Cigarette smoke contains very high amounts of damaging nitrogen free radicals which are carcinogenic. Gamma tocopherol (and not alpha tocopherol) is able to effectively neutralize the reactive nitrogen free radicals. This explains why smokers have notoriously low levels of gamma tocopherol as their body's store of gamma tocopherol is used to neutralize free radicals. Population studies have found that gamma tocopherol appears to protect against the development of lung disease in smokers. It is important for smokers to consider supplementation of gamma tocopherol.

High levels of gamma tocopherol have also been linked to a lower incidence and reduced risk of death from cardiovascular (coronary heart) disease. In a study involving 34,486 postmenopausal women, increased intake of dietary vitamin E, primarily gamma tocopherol was associated with a reduce risk of death from coronary heart disease. This association was not observed in women who took vitamin E supplements derived from alpha tocopherol. Most of the vitamin E supplements contain only beta tocopherol. Growing evidence indicate that it may not be good to consume alpha tocopherol alone without also consuming gamma tocopherol.

Studies have found that consuming alpha tocopherol alone depresses gamma tocopherols in body tissues. This is definitely not helpful (and may even be detrimental to health) if one considers that by taking alpha tocopherol alone you lose out on the main health benefits provided by gamma tocopherol that were already present in the tissues. Thus it is advisable to consume both alpha tocopherol and gamma tocopherol together. The studies also found that taking gamma tocopherol with alpha tocopherol also increases the levels of both gamma tocopherol and alpha tocopherol in body tissue. In nature, vitamin E is found to contain all four members of the tocopherol family: alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma tocopherol.

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