There is a general misconception that Americans eat foods high in dietary gamma tocopherols and therefore supplementation with this form of vitamin E is not necessary and should even be avoided.
A recent study demonstrated a link between high blood levels of gamma tocopherols with decreased lung function and increased respiratory illness. Don’t be alarmed, this is deceptive reporting of the science.
It is true that vegetable oils high in gamma tocopherols are predominant in the United States. Also common in the United States are foods fried in these vegetable oils.
The United States Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database show gamma tocopherol is found predominantly in highly processed foods. This is alarming and would make most health seeking individuals avoid dietary gamma tocopherol like fried foods.
But wait, not so fast.
Is the gamma tocopherol found in fried foods the same as what you would find in cooking oil? Is it the same as you would find in a walnut or cashew? NO. Functionally they are opposite.
As an antioxidant, vitamin E acts similar to pons in a chess game. Vitamin E sacrifices its antioxidant state to provide protection and becomes an oxidant in the process. Notwithstanding a pot of boiling oil, vitamin E will normally be recycled from oxidative state back into an active antioxidant by reacting with other nutrients such as vitamin C.
In your body, and in non fried foods, vitamin E fluctuates between oxidant and antioxidant. It is important to know that while antioxidants protect and oxidants destroy, they both can be used by the body to defend. In proper balance, the antioxidant protects against damage from energy production and harmful chemical reactions. The oxidant can be used to destroy harmful microorganisms. It is one of the functions of the immune system.
So, should you avoid fried foods? Probably, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid these foods and not eat the foods you really enjoy. Supplementing the diet with a low IU and high gamma vitamin E formula is a way to provide some balance to fried foods.
It is also very important to know this fluctuation of vitamin E between an antioxidant and oxidant is very well-controlled and targeted. In a healthy system, the antioxidant form of vitamin E can be used to create an oxidant environment as needed for protection.
Part of controlling and targeting the function of vitamin E system is a natural process called Redox (reduction-oxidation). This is simply a system that recycles an oxidant back into an antioxidant. This system attempts to keep vitamin E ready for action, in a healthy active state.
Vitamin C (preferably in both water and fat soluble forms) and lipoic acid are required to support the recycling of vitamin E. Without adequate amounts of these nutrients, vitamin E will not function to its full potential.