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Natural Awakenings Naples and Fort Myers

A Local Practitioner’s Perspective on Vitamin E

by Deb Post

The human body contains an estimated 75 trillion cells, each surrounded by a bean-shaped membrane made up of dense rows of fatty acids that require protection from lipid oxidative degradation. Among the popular antioxidants that help protect cells, vitamin E is the one that nature created to reside within the lipid cell membrane to protect its integrity. The molecular shape of vitamin E—like a tadpole with a chromanol head and lipid-soluble side chain tail—is perfect for its role in addressing peripheral artery disease and reducing serum triglyceride levels. 

The two forms of vitamin E, alpha-tocotrienols, with a longer tail, and alpha-tocopherols, with a shorter and more flexible tail, are not the same. The small difference in molecular structure allows alpha-tocotrienols to cover a larger surface area of the cell membrane more quickly, making it a more effective antioxidant. 

Vitamin E, in its cheapest form, alpha-tocopherol, can genetically trigger an inflammatory cytokine in approximately 47 percent of individuals. Today, much of the “natural” alpha-tocopherol on the market is semi-synthetic, with soy- and corn-based tocopherols synthesized. Synthetic tocotrienol ingredients do not exist. Tocotrienols are sourced from a wide array of foods, including wheat, barley and corn. 

Deb Post, advanced registered nurse practitioner, is the owner of Wellbridges, located at 9200 Bonita Beach Rd. SE, Ste. 213, in Bonita Springs. To learn about her functional medicine wellness programs, call 239-231-8354 or visit