How to get the “right” vitamin E

Vitamin E has been getting a bad rap in the press and I believe outdated and misguided studies are to blame.

Just as health-conscious people are awakening to the understanding that synthetic foods, like GMOs for example, don’t truly support your health, I hope to help you realize the same about synthetic vitamin E, and show you the effectiveness of naturally-occurring vitamin E and it’s powerful compounds.

In its natural state, vitamin E is a set of eight fat-soluble vitamers (vitamins A, D, and K are also fat-soluble vitamins). There are four tocopherol and four tocotrienol compounds. They each have differing levels of biological and antioxidant activity.

But prior to 2006, vitamin E supplements only contained one compound, alpha-tocopherol. That’s because it was believed to be the most biologically active one and therefore the only important one for human health.

So vitamin E studies, as I mentioned in my previous article, only looked at that one form. As a result, less than 1 percent of research had been done on the other vitamin E forms, such as the tocotrienols.

In fact, the current NIH website for healthcare professionals still provides incorrect (outdated by 8 years!) information about vitamin E. There it states, “Alpha-tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements.”

Yet it was back in March 2006 when researchers began publishing evidence that tocotrienols have even more powerful and important health effects than the alpha-tocopherol.

Furthermore, naturally sourced vitamin E is called d-alpha-tocopherol. The synthetically produced (lab-created) form is d-l-alpha-tocopherol.

That’s important because studies have repeatedly shown that naturally sourced vitamin E is superior. That wasn’t a part of the results from the 2005 study. The researchers even admit in their report that the biological activity of vitamin E compounds differ among isomer forms, yet for standardization purposes, they lumped both types of vitamin E supplements into their study. They never differentiated between natural and synthetic forms.

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400 IU, 100 Softgels, more than a 3 month supply

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The important news is that researchers have demonstrated since 2006 that “the other forms of vitamin E, such as gamma-tocopherol, delta-tocopherol, and gamma-tocotrienol, have unique antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are superior to those of alpha-tocopherol against chronic diseases.”

Both animal and human studies prove the anti-inflammatory effects of tocotrienols and that they are expected to protect against nerve and brain diseases, cancer, and high cholesterol.

The vitamin E you may not know: tocopherols and tocotrienols

Moving from synthetic alpha-tocopherol to mixed tocopherols (without tocotrienols) for superior health effects is a good thing. You can purchase 250 softgels of the 400 IU dose for around $15. Also, remember that vitamin E is fat-soluble, so it’s best to take it with food or with some olive oil.

And as you might guess, taking mixed tocopherols + tocotrienols is even better. But there is a price. The same brands that sell the mixed tocopherols will sell half the number of a “full-spectrum E” for about four times the price for the same IU amount. 120 softgels of around 970 IU of mixed tocopherols + tocotrienols can be $50.00 or more. That’s mostly the cost of getting natural forms of the gamma and delta tocotrienols.

Next time, I’m going to tell you about how you can benefit from vitamin A and its incredible skin healing effects. Plus, I’ll show you which treatments and products work best, and which are worth it to get healthy, glowing skin.

To feeling good for health,

Michael Cutler, M.D.
Easy Health Options


  1. Traber M. Vitamin E. In: Shils ME, Shike M, Ross AC, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2006;396-411.
  2. Sen C, Khanna S, Roy S. Tocotrienols: Vitamin E beyond tocopherols. Life Sci. 2006 Mar 27;78(18):2088-98.
  3. Vitamin E — National Institutes of Health
  4. Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamin E — Chiropractic Resource Organization
  5. Institute of Medicine.  Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. A report of the Panel on Dietary Antioxidants and Related Compounds, Subcommittees on Upper Reference Levels of Nutrients and Interpretation and Uses of Dietary Reference Intakes, and the Standing Committee on the Scientific Evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes Food Nutrition Board. Washington, DC: National Academies Pr; 2000.
  6. Ashan H, Ahad A, Iqbal J, Siddiqui W.  Pharmacological potential of tocotrienols: a review.  Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014 Nov 12;11(1):52.


Dr. Michael Cutler

By Dr. Michael Cutler

Dr. Michael Cutler is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and is a board-certified family physician with more than 20 years of experience. He serves as a medical liaison to alternative and traditional practicing physicians. His practice focuses on an integrative solution to health problems. Dr. Cutler is a sought-after speaker and lecturer on experiencing optimum health through natural medicines and founder of the original Easy Health Options™ newsletter — an advisory on natural healing therapies and nutrients. His current practice is San Diego Integrative Medicine, near San Diego, California.