Emerging research demonstrates that gamma-Tocopherol, the most abundant form of Vitamin E in the diet, has very important and unique functions. Central to these functions is its capacity to detoxify reactive nitrogen species, an especially destructive form of free radical. In addition, gamma-Tocopherol acts to trap and remove free radicals from the body in a way that alpha-Tocopherol cannot. NOW® Advanced Gamma E Complex provides the necessary full range of antioxidant protection because it contains a more natural balance of Tocopherols plus a full complement of Tocotrienols. NOW®'s Advanced formula thereby provides superior support for cardiovascular health, as well as protection for the health of the prostate and the colon.*
From the FDA's website: "Some scientific evidence suggests that consumption of antioxidant vitamins may reduce the risk of certain forms of cancer. However, FDA has determined that this evidence is limited and not conclusive."
What's the difference between Alpha and Gamma and Tocopherol?
In order to answer the question correctly we need to review what Vitamin E is. Vitamin E is actually a family of essential fat-soluble nutrients that act as powerful antioxidants. In nature, there are eight substances that have been found to have vitamin E activity: alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta- tocopherols; and alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta- tocotrienols. The four different isomers (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) from both the tocopherol and tocotrienol groups all have different biological activities and potential therapeutic benefits.
Research shows that d-alpha-tocopherol has the highest bioavailability and is the standard against which all the others must be compared. This is the only natural form of Vitamin E that is measured in International Units (IU). Human blood and tissue contains much more alpha-tocopherol than gamma-tocopherol even though gamma-tocopherol is the predominant form of vitamin E in our diet. That is because the body has a special preferred transport mechanism for alpha tocopherol.
Is there any research on Gamma-tocopherols health benefits?
Research suggests its configuration enables it to better trap and quench reactive nitrogen oxide species (RNOS) such as peroxynitrate and nitrogen dioxide. These dangerous free radical compounds are formed in excess during an inflammatory episode. The structure of alpha-tocopherol does not allow it to bind these nitrogen compounds. Gamma-tocopherol’s ability to provide protection against these damaging RNOS makes it an extremely important weapon to protect cardiovascular health, brain tissue and normal cellular functions.
Gamma-tocopherol has been researched at the University of California, Berkeley and Children’s Hospital Oakland Institute to have a COX-2 (cyclo-oxygenase 2) inhibitory effect on human epithelial cells as well as inhibiting PGE2 ( prostaglandin E-2) synthesis.
COX-2 is the bad guy form that is found mainly in inflammatory conditions and generates the production of pro-inflammatory prostaglandins involved in cellular damage. By inhibiting COX-2 activity, gamma-tocopherol plays an important role in protecting the body.
What are tocotrienols?
Tocotrienols are the cousins of tocopherols that exhibit vitamin E antioxidant activity. Their chemical structure is different in that they have an unsaturated side-chain rather than the saturated side-chain of tocopherols. The unique molecular structure of tocotrienols allow them to be more efficiently and uniformly distributed into the cell membranes and tissues that are high in unsaturated fatty acids, such as the brain and liver.
Plant oils are the best sources of both tocotrienols and tocopherols. Virgin palm oil is the best single source of tocotrienols providing the four isomers, alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta forms. Although some studies performed on animals and humans have shown certain tocotrienols to have an ability to inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol, help regulate cholesterol production and inhibit certain abnormal cell line growth, more clinical research is needed to validate the findings and translate them into a specific dose response.