Tocopherol is commonly referred to as vitamin E. It is a fat-soluble chemical that possesses antioxidant properties, and it is essential to the proper functioning of the human body. There are eight different kinds of tocopherols in vitamin E, and the one that is most abundant and commonly used by the body is alpha tocopherol. Tocopherols come in both synthetic and natural forms, and they can be found in foods such as vegetable oils, nut oils, nuts, green vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy products, breakfast cereals, eggs and meat.
Tocopherol offers many health benefits:
Enhances Immune System and Metabolism
Tocopherols are powerful antioxidants that can inhibit the activities of free radicals in the human body. They also aid in the maintenance of an effective immune system. They help the body perform DNA repair and enhance metabolism processes as well. Consumption of vitamin E will hinder the production of nitrosamines, which are carcinogens that are formed from nitrates in certain foods. This function of tocopherols ensures that the metabolism processes in the body will remain efficient. Tocopherols provide excellent protection for sensitive tissues in certain parts of the body, such as the eyes, skin, breasts, liver and testes.
Reduces the Risk of Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases
It has been proven in recent studies that low levels of vitamin E in the blood can contribute to increased risks of many different types of cancer, including breast and lung cancers. Alpha tocopherols' ability to suppress the development of nitrosamines helps in the prevention of cancer. As an antioxidant, vitamin E is also effective in countering atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a type of cardiovascular disease that is caused by the accumulation of fatty deposits on artery walls. Low-density lipoproteins contribute to the build up of these deposits, and they undergo a process of oxidation before they attach themselves to artery walls. Tocopherols can slow down this oxidation process and prevent the clotting of blood in arteries.
Cataracts are a common health problem in the United States, and they usually affect elderly men and women. They are characterized by abnormal growths in the lens of the eyes, which result in cloudy vision and even vision disability. Long-term activities of free radicals can contribute to the occurrence and growth of cataracts, and consumption of antioxidants can delay the development of the disease. According to research, supplementation of vitamin E can reduce the risk of cataracts by 50% or more.
Medical experts believe that aging is caused by a decline in the efficiency of the immune system as well as lipid peroxidation. It has been noted that daily consumption of vitamin E supplements can reduce levels of lipid peroxide in the human body and improve T-cell mediated immune responses in elderly people.
It is recommended that a person takes 15 mg of vitamin E everyday. Insufficient intake of tocopherols can lead to a wide range of health problems, including acne, fatigue, gallstones, anemia, poor fertility and premature aging. Vitamin E deficiency can also increase risks of diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, stroke, cataracts, diabetes, cancer and dementia.