Vitamin E

Vitamin E was initially known for its ability to prevent sterility. Discovered in the early 1920's by various biochemists in the USA working independently, it was known that feeding rats on a diet of only milk made them infertile.

Adding various other foods made no difference until one researcher discovered that the humble-lettuce restored the rats' fertility.

He named the unknown substance in the lettuce vitamin E; perhaps surprisingly only 0.22 mg per 100 grams.

Hass avocado fat is rich in vitamin E.

This page was last updated by Bernard-Preston on 8th August, 2023.

It is a fat-soluble compound; actually there are 8 different isomers. They are found in much larger concentrations in various oils such as that in wheat germ.

Persistent reports suggest strongly that one should get them from whole, unprocessed-foods rather than in capsules; read further for the data.

There are eight different-forms, known as isomers but we will mention only two; alpha and gamma tocopherol. Not much is known about the others.

Mixed forms give protection against malignancies.

But many supplements contain only the alpha-fraction and this is now known to increase the rate of prostate disease. Why is that?


The vitamin E story is a fascinating cooperation between biochemists but what comes out of it is that these isomers inhibit the oxidation of other molecules; they are reducing agents that are sufficiently stable to neutralise circulating free radicals.

In the process they act as anti-oxidants, giving protection to the cells of the body.

When fats are broken down in cell membranes, free radicals are produced but the tocopherols protects them against oxidation.

Vital in nerve function, they protect the myelin sheath of the cells. A deficiency causes serious neurological diseases.

It is this antioxidant effect that is thought to give the protection against the muscle wasting[1] associated with frailty syndrome.


Anti-coagulants prevent clotting in the blood vessels; vitamin E ranks high on the list.

It is noteworthy that heart disease was almost unknown and certainly heart attack very rare, prior to the refining of wheat flour, removing in the process the wheat germ oil and its tocopherols; the lignans too. Vitamin E is an important factor in the anti-coagulation of blood. It helps to stop clots from forming.

Do you have the signs of an imminent heart attack at your finger tips? It could save a life, even yours.

And know that if you have had one heart attack or stroke, there is another coming within a year unless you make radical life style changes, including consuming foods rich in vitamin E. First and foremost though, have a test to see if you are insulin-resistant.

Type "Heart attack" signs and symptoms into the Site Search function above.

And "Lignans" too which are the phytochemicals that compete with circulating female oestrogen in the body.

Tingling in arms and hands and legs

Interesting new research done in the Netherlands shows that vitamin E combined with certain fatty acids gives protection against the most awful of diseases; Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis.

Anti-cholesterol drugs too, not uncommonly cause tingling in the limbs.

Vitamin E and the prostate gland

Vitamin E is essential but alpha-tocopherol, the commonest form, on its own increases prostate neoplasms.

The SELECT study found that taking neither supplements of vitamin E or selenium had any significant benefit; they have to come from our food to give protection against tumours.

But gamma tocopherol has been shown to prevent tumours, in addition to acting as an anti-inflammatory agent but for this protection the alpha form has limited value; some of the lesser known vitamin E isomers may turn out to be even more effective. Little is known about them.

Different functions

In short alpha and gamma-tocopherol have very different functions:

  1. The alpha form prevents the production of the damaging free radicals when fats in cell linings are oxidised.
  2. But it is the gamma-isomer that mops up these free radicals.

Clearly both are needed in the nutritious diet; and almost certainly the other six tocopherols too but this has not yet been defined.

Prostate neoplasms

Prostate neoplasms are the most common terminal malignant disease of men; make sure you are getting gamma vitamin E from your food; and selenium too.

A research project involving a very large group of men showed clearly that gamma-tocopherol gave five times protection against prostate neoplasms but the alpha form and selenium on their own had little or no effect.

The most powerful protection seemed to be when all three were present. Gamma and alpha-tocopherol are necessary; and selenium too.

Alpha tocopherol alone has no value in the fight against prostate disease. In fact there are suggestions that on its own it may increase the risk. Why is that?

Alpha and gamma tocopherol are competing for absorption sites in the gut.

If you are consuming small amounts of the gamma isomer in your diet and flooding the small intestine with the alpha form from capsules, then the latter inhibits the absorption of the protective ɣ-kind; the one that mops up the free radicals that cause prostate neoplasms.

In short for your prostate gland consume foods rich in alpha and gamma-tocopherol. Selenium's richest sources are from rich in mushrooms and avocados.

  • AVOCADO FAT contains a good mixture of both gamma and alpha-tocopherols.

Type "nutritional value of mushrooms" into the Site Search key above; it's about their rich selenium content amongst many others, including ease of cooking and great taste.

And for more information about the "tomato prostate" link which was discovered when research was done into why Italian men had far less of the malignant disease. These subjects are not small beer; for many it may be the difference between life and death.

Richest sources

1. Gamma-tocopherol

  • Corn. Are you planning on planting a garden this summer?
  • Soybean oil. Tofu is made from the legume.
  • Pecan nuts. 

Researchers from Loma Linda University (Journal of Nutrition 2011) state that pecans are particularly rich in the gamma form of vitamin E. They found that LDL (the "bad" cholesterol) decreased by up to 30 percent too. That is huge.

  • Pole beans.

Researchers in Poland found that the young leaves of pole beans were particularly rich in gamma-tocopherol but unfortunately there is no information in this research about the seeds and pods.

However Grela et al state that green beans and favas too have significant vitamin E  but there is no mention of the alpha and gamma split.

Both growing and cooking green beans are easy in any case; they should be in every garden.

The fruit from growing green pole beans are a source of gamma vitamin E.

2. Alpha tocopherol

  • Cold pressed sunflower oil is particularly rich in tocopherols. Research scientists in Spain found that they were the most important anti-oxidants in the seeds. 90 percent of it was alpha.

But processed, solvent-extracted supermarket sunflower oil has little or no benefit, says researcher, H. Slover; it invariably reduces the tocopherol content, sometimes to insignificant levels.

Alpha tocopherol is the most widely distributed, naturally-occurring form in foods. However, as stated above, in certain grains and legumes such as corn and soybeans for example, other forms may predominate.

  • 100% wholewheat flour
  • almonds
  • peanuts are particularly rich in alpha-tocopherol too.

In short there are persistent reports that vitamin E supplementation, since it usually only contains the alpha form, has little value in protecting our well-being; and may in fact increase the risks.

Clearly it is most beneficial to obtain it from natural sources; wholewheat, corn on the cob and sunflower seeds, for example. Tofu, almonds and peanuts are other good provenance; avocados and beans too.

The moral of the story is that sparkling wellness does not come out of a vitamin pill-bottle. It issues forth from eating foods rich in these substances; from as broad a spectrum as possible.

Whilst baking your own bread if you use refined flour, can in no way be described as nutritious food, made fast, there are few more rewarding things from the kitchen than a homemade, fresh loaf, sprinkled with sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds.

To make it truly a wellness food you have alas to go the expense of an electric flour mill and a bread machine. You will also need just five minutes every day to prepare the dough.

Despite this your divine-tasting nutritious bread costs less than half of the empty supermarket loaf; the price of that hardware has been paid back many times over in 25 years.

It takes us less than 5 minutes to measure out the ingredients for our bread; a few moments plus five hours.

Or making Johnny-bread from your own corn.

Using fresh ground grains, perhaps using a bread-maker, wholemeal homemade loaf is rich in the natural forms of vitamin E.

Do you get very serious diarrhoea? Try this gluten free bread recipe; personally I would rather go the sourdough route first.

Even better is to come to grips with the meaning of gluten; once you understand a little of the biochemistry and discover why researchers have found that the majority of those suffering from Coeliac Disease can enjoy bread prepared this way. You too can most likely tuck in.

This bread machine loaf baked using 100 percent wholemeal wheat is a rich source of vitamin E.

Whilst we make loaves using our twenty-year old Panasonic bread-making machine virtually every day and would not swap it for anything, they are reported to be the most unused appliances in the kitchen. Do not buy one unless you really plan to use it.

Always twiddle the paddle before use; the gland can seize and destroy the mechanism.

Five minutes each time for a delicious hot, nutritious loaf. It tastes so good you will find you have no need to smother it with ham, peanut butter or jelly. 

You know that processed red-meat is public enemy number one of the prostate, right?


Tocotrienols are members of the vitamin E family found in some vegetable oils, the germ of the wheat grain and flaxseed; barley, maize and some nuts too. They are thought to have even greater anti-inflammatory properties than the alpha and gamma tocopherols.[1]

They are also anti-oxidants.

Those enjoying a broad selection of foods need have no fear of deficiencies. 100 percent whole grains like corn on the cob and real bread are the solid sources where you can get them regularly. The importance of frailty and vitamin E should not be dismissed lightly. This is not small beer. 

Choice foods

If you want to reach eighty and ninety with all your faculties intact, you really have no option; choice foods and plenty of exercise are essential. It is impossible to rank them but vitamin E must be right up there; not in pill form which distorts things but from your nosh.

Choline food sources to prevent birth defects, lutein to keep macular degeneration at bay and tomatoes to protect against prostate cancer are all on the seemingly endless list.

The only solution is a wide range of choice foods.

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