Life Extension Magazine®

Issue: Feb 1998

Not all Vitamin E is Created Equal

Vitamin E supplementation used to be simple. Now, scientists say more than one type of vitamin E should be part of your supplement program.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, on January 2021.


Vitamin E supplementation used to be a simple proposition. Now, scientists say more than one type of vitamin E should be a part of your supplement program.

There are an average of 19 new scientific studies published every week about vitamin E. In fact, vitamin E research has progressed to the point where scientists have identified different forms of vitamin E that protect against distinct types of free radical damage, and that boost immune function in different ways.

The alpha tocopherol fraction of vitamin E is used exclusively in most commercial vitamin E supplements, either in natural or artificial form. However, studies are showing that vitamin E's gamma tocopherol fraction may be more potent than alpha tocopherol in suppressing damaging free radicals. In addition, alpha tocopheryl succinate (a derivative of alpha tocopherol) may be more effective in boosting immune function. And, to make the situation even more complex, studies have found that synergistic benefits — including protection against heart disease, cancer and other diseases — are generated with a combination of gamma tocopherol and alpha tocopheryl succinate.

The health benefits of alpha tocopheryl succinate-which the Foundation has offered in 400 IU capsules, and as an ingredient in Life Extension Mix and Life Extension Booster have been discussed in these pages many times. Here, we introduce a new oil-based multi-form vitamin E product Gamma E Tocopherol Formula featuring gamma tocopherol, the other essential form of vitamin E.

Benefits Of Gamma Tocopherol

One study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (April 1997) suggests that it could be dangerous to take high doses of alpha tocopherol without also consuming gamma tocopherol. What made this study interesting was that it showed that high doses of alpha tocopherol can displace gamma tocopherol in tissues. While alpha tocopherol inhibits the production of free radicals to some degree, it is gamma tocopherol that is required to trap and neutralize existing free radicals, as well as key oxidizing agents that generate free radicals.

One dangerous free radical producing compound that gamma tocopherol inhibits strongly is peroxynitrite, which is harmful to cells because of its powerful oxidizing and nitrating properties. There is substantial research documenting the ability of gamma tocopherol to protect brain cells against peroxynitrite damage.

Because of this, the scientists who wrote the National Academy of Sciences report state that vitamin E supplements should contain at least 20 percent gamma tocopherol. But most commercial vitamin E supplements do not contain any gamma tocopherol at all, which could explain some of the inconsistent results in controlled studies using only the alpha tocopherol form of vitamin E.

Peroxynitrite has been reviewed extensively in the scientific literature. In fact, one reason the Foundation has long promoted Melatonin is evidence that it inhibits the production of this brain cell-damaging substance. And, of course, slowing brain aging is a priority at the Life Extension Foundation, and neutralizing free radical activity in the brain is a fundamental key to maintaining neuronal competency. Several well-conducted human studies have shown that those who take vitamin E acquire protection against neurological aging.

Now, with Gamma E Tocopherol Formula, Foundation members and Life Extension magazine readers are the first to gain access to an affordable vitamin E supplement that contains 62 percent gamma tocopherol, the highest percentage fraction of gamma tocopherol available anywhere.

And it costs significantly less than rice and palm oil extracts. This gamma tocopherol-rich formula also contains smaller amounts of other natural vitamin E fractions such as alpha, beta and delta tocopherol.

By taking Gamma E Tocopherol Formula, in addition to existing vitamin E products, Life Extension Foundation members can obtain potent doses of every form of vitamin E that has been shown in the scientific literature to protect against disease and improve health.