Alpha-Tocopherol is the most active form of vitamin E in humans. The amount of vitamin E in food supplement labels in the EC is expressed as alpha-tocopherol equivalents (a-TE) to account for the different biological activities of the various forms of vitamin E. In some countries it is also expressed as international units (iu). Vitamin E supplements are available in natural or synthetic forms, the synthetic form is only half as active as the natural form. The natural form is usually labelled with the letter “d” (e.g. d-alpha tocopherol), whereas the synthetic form is labelled “dl” (e.g. dlalpha tocopherol). Natural rich sources of vitamin E include cold-pressed vegetable oils, molasses, dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, asparagus, sweet potatoes, yams, nuts, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, egg yolks and organ meats.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in the health of the cardiovascular, immune, neuro-muscular and reproductive systems. It is required by the body for normal blood coagulation and to promote healthy blood vessels, skin and vision. Vitamin E is also thought to play a role in the oxygen requirement of muscle tissues and their nerves, and thereby may help to improve endurance, stamina and athletic performance.
The Antioxidant Activity of vitamin E may help to limit oxidative damage of cellular tissue and other fat-soluble vitamins. Antioxidants are free radical scavengers, they play the housekeeper’s role by “mopping up” and neutralising these reactive particles. By neutralising free radicals, antioxidants may help to detoxify and protect vital body tissues and organs.