Alpha-Tocopherol Doesn’t Break Down Other Vitamin E Forms


A rat study encourages supplementing with all vitamin E forms found in nature.

A rat study published in the journal Lipids suggests that alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, does not encourage the breakdown of other vitamin E forms in the body.

There is concern that alpha-tocopherol might cause the premature breakdown other vitamin E forms in the body, by a process known as omega-hydroxylation, and this has discourages some manufacturers from formulating dietary supplements with each vitamin E form as would be found in nature. But when Japanese researchers fed rats a diet of alpha-tocopherol mixed with other members of the vitamin E family, no such breakdowns occurred.

For six weeks, Wistar rats fed on a diet rich in gamma-tocopherol before switching to a one-week diet with or without alpha-tocopherol. Rats that switched to an alpha-tocopherol diet did not show losses of the gamma-tocopherol obtained from the previous diet. Concentrations in serum, liver, adrenal gland, small intestine, and heart tissues were similar in both groups, as was detection of gamma-tocopherol metabolites in the urine. Next, rats fed on a tocotrienol-rich diet for six weeks before switching to a one-week diet with or without alpha-tocopherol. In the same body tissues and urinary analysis, alpha-tocopherol did not influence levels of tocotrienols and their metabolites.

The results of the study pleased WH Leong, vice president of Carotech Inc. (Edison, NJ), which supplied its Tocomin Suprabio complex of vitamin E for the study. “We have stressed numerous times that nature makes both tocopherols and tocotrienols, and, therefore, there is no reason (scientifically or otherwise) to purposely remove tocopherol or limit tocopherol intake with tocotrienols,” said Leong. “We need to take vitamin E as nature makes it-in wholesome and full-spectrum formula.”

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