By Audrey Quinn
Posting in Cancer
The most common form of vitamin E in our food helps prevent colon, lung, breast and prostate cancers. But the form of the vitamin most commonly in supplement pills doesn't share these benefits.
I've always had a "Well, it couldn't hurt," attitude towards vitamin pills. New research suggests that laissez-faire approach towards supplements may put my health at risk.
Rutgers University researcher Chung S. Yang published a report this week in the journal Cancer Prevention Research that could clear the vitamin's record.
Those other studies, Yang points out, looked at vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E pills usually contain the vitamin in a form called alpha-tocopherol.
Yang decided to instead focus on the form of vitamin E most common in our diets, gamma-tocopherol. It's found in soybean, canola and corn oils as well as in nuts. He found that along with delta-tocopherols, another form of vitamin E found in vegetable oils, it helps protect against cancer.
Rutgers scientists conducting animal studies for colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer found that the forms of vitamin E in vegetable oils, gamma and delta-tocopherols, prevent cancer formation and growth in animal models.
"When animals are exposed to cancer-causing substances, the group that was fed these tocopherols in their diet had fewer and smaller tumors," Yang said in the press release. "When cancer cells were injected into mice these tocopherols also slowed down the development of tumors."
The study found no such protective benefits from alpha-tocopherols.
Though it's good to know that we have more allies against cancer in the gamma and delta-tocopherols form of vitamin E, I find the results of this study disconcerting overall. The average consumer isn't going to know to discern between different forms of vitamin E available in the vitamin aisle. Honestly, I didn't even know that different forms of vitamin E existed.
Why would pharmaceutical companies preferentially produce alpha-tocopherol vitamin E supplements when it appears to be an inferior form of the vitamin? And why does that form of the vitamin remain on the market, if research has linked it to health risks?
Clearly there are more factors at play here than can be gleaned from a few research articles, but this blogger for one will certainly be reconsidering her casual approach towards vitamin supplements.
Photo: John Liu/Flickr
Apr 27, 2012
I think it is hard to keep up with what is going on with whats being put in what now days so I just keep to the basics. I eat organic, focus on what foods have what vitamins and just focus on what I need and add it to my daily intake. for the vitamin E since were on this topic I just take a tsp of camelina oil. high in omega 3's as well. So I guess in a way its somewhat simple after you figure out what to eat, that way I don't have my a pill set I have to take seven days a week. But this is the vitamin E
Just a guess here but I would assume that the production of the Vit E pills and the selection of the type is driven by either availability or cost. If someone who knows more about the economics of Vit E production is cponnected perhaps they could enlighten us. Thanks