When you walk into CVS or Walgreens you will see an aisle of every vitamin, mineral, or herb you can think of. You may have heard from a friend to try taking a new supplement or you may have been recommended one by your primary care provider. There are a lot of vitamins and dietary supplements out there. They are not all the same. For example, vitamin E is commonly known as alpha-tocopherol. However, there are many different constituents of vitamin E and they each have varying levels of biological activity and bioavailability. How many are there?
Naturally occurring vitamin E exists in eight chemical forms:
There are some companies that would state that their product is superior because it contains all of the constituents of vitamin E, not just the popular chemical. While alpha-tocopherol is the popular vitamin E there are many more components to it than just that. So, does it matter how much of the full vitamin complex is there or should we just try to get as much of the popular substance such as alpha-tocopherol?
The answer is yes it does matter. Alpha-tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements. The bioavailability (how well our body can absorb and utilize) of the form of the vitamin plays a critical role in how our body uptakes that vitamin. It can be the difference between necessary dietary supplements and expensive urine.
Vitamin E deficiency is rare, but including it in your diet is critical. It plays an important role in growth and development, as well as hair, skin, and eye health. Sunflower seeds, almonds, avocado, spinach, and butternut squash all contain vitamin E along with many other micronutrients. And they all taste better than a pill!