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Healthy Aging and Vitamin E
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Healthy aging is everyone's goal. That's why I want to talk about how Vitamin E may be able to help. Heart disease is everyone's concern but many women are not aware that one in three women dies of heart disease. But heart disease also can lead to disability and a significantly decreased quality of life. Both heart disease and stroke are known as cardiovascular diseases, which are serious disorders of the heart and blood vessel system. If your family tree looks like mine, you need to start considering a healthy lifestyle for everyone in the family. After all, Vitamin E is a family affair. Vitamin E is actually a family of eight compounds that includes both gamma-tocopherol (the main form in food) and alpha-tocopherol (the main form in supplements).


You have heard conflicting stories about Vitamin E in the news. Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties that protects your cell membranes from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can cause cell injury that may add to the development of heart disease and cancer. Several studies are trying to determine whether vitamin E might help prevent or delay the development of these chronic diseases. Unfortunately, vitamin E's famous reputation as a protector against heart disease has diminished in recent years. However, Swedish scientists might have a clue in their study which was published in the March American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. They propose that the "form" of vitamin E may have something to do with whether heart-health benefits are observed. 

 

Nutrients such as vitamin E have a long history of proven antioxidant function in the human body. The value of antioxidant nutrients is not just in their direct antioxidant activity, but also in how they interact with antioxidant systems in the human body as well as protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. In this context, advanced gene studies show that tocotrienols are a highly superior form of vitamin E. In one study rabbits were placed on a high cholesterol diet for a period of 60 days. The test animals were supplemented with alpha, gamma, or delta tocotrienols for 30 days, and then subjected to experimentally induced heart attack. Measures of serum cholesterol were cut in half in the rabbits on gamma tocotrienol and nearly in half on those receiving the alpha tocotrienol isomer. The delta tocotrienol form did not exert any effect on cholesterol. Additionally, gamma tocotrienol reduced damage to the heart by 77% and alpha tocotrienol resulted in 67% less damage to the critical heart muscle.

Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms closely associated with the development of diabetes. People exhibiting metabolic syndrome characteristics run more than twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Researchers from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia found "Tocotrienols improved lipid profiles and reduced atherosclerotic lesions, decreased blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin concentrations, normalized blood pressure, and inhibited adipogenesis."

Researchers determined that a variety of different receptors or genetic signaling mechanisms are involved that can prevent the dangerous systemic inflammation known to precipitate heart disease and diabetes. Natural sources of vitamin E tocotrienols include most varieties of nuts and seeds as well as coconut oil in its unrefined state. Most people will want to ensure adequate intake of this critical nutritional fraction by including a full-spectrum supplement to improve heart health and prevent metabolic syndrome.

In another study immune cells from young adults (aged 35-49) and from older adults (age over 50) were exposed to hydrogen peroxide to induce free radical cell damage. The researchers then used advanced genomic analysis to determine which proteins had changed in response to the stress. Then they exposed the cells to tocotrienols and measured which proteins now changed. In addition to improvement in antioxidant gene signaling the researchers also discovered that tocotrienols activated gene signaling within the cells to make them more resistant to stress. Not only were antioxidants enzymes working better but the cells themselves had improved fitness to withstand the trauma, including in the immune cells of older adults.

These types of advanced studies show the power of tocotrienols to influence multiple gene signaling involved with natural defense. This is in addition to the direct antioxidant capacity of tocotrienols, which is also superior to plain vitamin E as demonstrated in multiple other studies. Because a general decline in antioxidant enzyme function as well as a cellís ability to defend itself are common features of aging, it can be concluded that tocotrienols are a superior anti-aging nutrient.

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