Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes from damage by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. It is necessary for structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle; assists in the formation of red blood cells; helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium; and may play a protective role against heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Vitamin E is found in nature as a complex of eight separate compounds (four tocopherols and four tocotrienols), all with important functions in the body. Dr. Weil recommends avoiding synthetic versions, and taking a vitamin E product that contains all eight natural mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols. (Dr. Weil’s Vitamin E Complex contains 17 mg of tocotrienols from palm fruit oil in addition to 130 mg of mixed natural tocopherols)
While vitamin E appears to be safe even at higher doses, people taking blood thinners or aspirin should consult with their doctor about vitamin E to avoid any risk of abnormal blood clotting. Take your vitamin E with a meal that contains some fat to aid in its absorption, and look for natural sources of vitamin E in foods like nuts, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and whole grains.
What’s In Your Vitamin E?
Natural vitamin E (in the form of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols) provides the full range of benefits from vitamin E, while synthetic vitamin E is limited to alpha tocopherol. Dr. Weil recommends avoiding dl-alpha-tocopherol varieties, and instead opting for a product with the whole vitamin E complex.