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What is Tocopherol?

Fitday Editor

Tocopherol is a naturally occurring chemical element found in a variety of foods. It is commonly called vitamin E in a generic sense, as vitamin E substances are made up of tocopherol and similar elements. The most common form of this element is called alpha- tocopherol. Tocopherol in the form of vitamin E is a regular part of the average diet, with specific recommended dosages available to the public from U.S. science institutions in the form of "recommended daily allowance" or RDA. Foods that include vitamin E will usually have the RDA printed on the nutritional label.

Health Benefits

The body needs a certain amount of vitamin E in the diet to prevent some problems of the central nervous system. Vitamin E in controlled amounts contributes to a healthy diet. Some forms of tocopherol are also antioxidants: they help the body fight off chronic disease by helping to resist oxidization in the blood. However, antioxidants are available in a variety of forms in most fresh fruits and vegetables, and vitamin E is not the only kind of antioxidant available as a supplement.

Health Risks

Excessive levels of tocopherol or vitamin E substances have been linked to various risks of illness. One of these is a study that found that elevated vitamin E levels could increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. There are also specific issues with tocopherol and blood coagulation. Tocopherol tends to interact with blood thinners and may create adverse conditions in some patients who take these medications.

In some studies, tocopherol as vitamin E has been found to actually raise mortality levels in some kinds of individuals. Most of the individuals who would be extremely affected by excessive vitamin E levels have existing health conditions that this substance can exacerbate.

In addition to the above, pregnant women are recommended to take lower levels of vitamin E. High levels of tocopherol elements have been linked to congenital heart defects in some types of birth. That makes vitamin E supplements a very sensitive dietary supplement, and something to watch for in the diets of pregnant mothers, the elderly, and other high-risk patient groups.

Where Is Tocopherol Found?

The various kinds of substances labeled tocopherol or vitamin E are found in natural foods like spinach, nuts and vegetable oils. They are also present in some processed foods like breakfast cereals, where foods that were otherwise not high in vitamins are fortified with a variety of vitamins including vitamin E.

The bottom line for tocopherol and vitamin E substances is that they should not be taken as supplements without thorough research on health conditions of an individual. Talk to local doctors about safe levels of tocopherol in your diet, and make sure to mention any possible drugs or medical conditions that could cause interactions. Knowing more about how these naturally occurring elements affect health is critical for anyone who wants to benefit from nutritional science in a daily diet.

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