Vitamin E

Alpha tocopherol is a type of vitamin E that exists naturally as d-alpha tocopherol, but supplement manufacturers also market synthetic “mirror image” l-alpha tocopherol as well as a mixture of d- and l-alpha tocopherol.

The synthetic kind and the mix are cheaper, but l-alpha tocopherol has little or no actual vitamin E activity in the body. It may interfere with d-alpha tocopherol activity and there’s no long-term safety data.

When buying vitamin E supplements, be sure to choose d-alpha tocopherol along with other natural tocopherols such as beta-, gamma- and delta-.

Reference

1. Gaby, A. Does high-dose vitamin E kill people? Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. Available at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0ISW/is_259-260/ai_n10299312/pg_2. Accessed on Oct. 25, 2008.

Published by David Despain, MS, CFS

David is a science and health writer living on Long Island, New York. He's written for a variety of publications including Scientific American, Outside Online, the American Society for Nutrition's (ASN) Nutrition Notes Daily, and Institute of Food Technologists' (IFT) Food Technology magazine and Live! blog. He's also covered new findings reported at scientific meetings including Experimental Biology, AAAS, AOCS, CASW, Sigma Xi, IFT, and others on his personal blog "Evolving Health." David is also an active member of organizations including the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Society for Nutrition, the Institute of Food Technologists, and the National Audubon Society. David has a master's degree in human nutrition from the University of Bridgeport, and a bachelor's degree in English from University of Illinois at Springfield. He also earned his Certified Food Scientist credential from the Institute of Food Technologists.

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