Are you at risk for developing cardiovascular disease or of having a heart attack? Considering that more than 1 million Americans suffer heart attacks each year, I’m guessing some are saying, “Yes.” And there is one nutrient that can assist in lowering that risk: Vitamin E. A recent review focusing on a particular type of vitamin E (tocotrienol) suggested that the nutrient has many cardioprotective effects, from lowering cholesterol, preventing atherosclerosis and lowering risk of heart attacks.
There are two forms of vitamin E, tocopherols and tocotrienols. The majority of what we hear about vitamin E centers around tocopherols. However, tocotrienols are similar in chemical structure and are gaining popularity in the scientific community in regards to cardiac health. Both forms of vitamin E have similar effects in the body; they are strong antioxidants, which means that they fight free radical damage, and are especially effective when it comes to free radical damage that causes heart disease. One study in particular found that tocotrienols had the same effect on cholesterol as statins, a common form of cholesterol-lowering drug. It appears that tocotrienols are actually more effective in the antioxidant department; however, they are harder to come by in food. The main food sources of tocotrienols are red palm oil and rice bran oil….not items that are necessarily found in the nearest supermarket. Red palm oil is also very high in saturated fat, so use caution especially if you are at high risk for heart disease.
Tocopherols on the other hand are more readily available and still have great antioxidant capabilities. The recommended daily allowance set by the Institute of Medicine for alpha-tocopherol is 15 mg for adults. Good food sources are wheat germ oil (20mg in 1 tbsp), sunflower seeds (7.4mg in 1 oz.), almonds (6.8mg in 1 oz.), sunflower oil (5.6 mg in 1 tbsp.) and hazelnuts (4.3mg in 1 oz.). Other sources that have much less are spinach, tomatoes and peanuts.
For more reasons and ways to incorporate vitamin E into your lives, read all about it here.