What is "Natural" Vitamin E? It Depends On the Brand Selling It, Finds ConsumerLab.com
-- New Review of Vitamin E Supplements, Oil and Cream, Including Tocopherols and Tocotrienols --
White Plains, New York, June 18, 2012 — What is in a "natural" vitamin E supplement, cream, or oil? According to recent tests by independent evaluator, ConsumerLab.com, this depends completely on the brand selling it. For some it is the full spectrum of naturally occurring tocopherols and tocotrienols in the vitamin E family. For others, it is primarily d-alpha-tocopherol (the most active vitamin E compound) with little of the related compounds. In one product claiming to be "natural", it was actually synthetic vitamin E.
In its recent Product Review of Vitamin E Supplements, Creams and Oils, ConsumerLab.com selected and tested 13 different brands of vitamin E products. Eleven of these passed testing, meeting their label claims for natural or synthetic vitamin E. Among these, the least expensive were those with synthetic vitamin E, which cost as little as 2 cents per 400 IU (International Units) of vitamin E. Natural vitamin E supplements cost a bit more, starting at around 8 or 9 cents per 400 IU. However, if you are expecting tens or hundreds of milligrams of other vitamin E antioxidant compounds such as gamma-tocopherol, products cost more — starting at about 20 to 30 cents per 400 IU. Products with additional ingredients or topical creams or oils also cost more to get the same amount of vitamin E.
Vitamin E supplements are fairly popular in the U.S. In a 2011 survey of supplement users, ConsumerLab.com found that 21.7% of respondents were taking vitamin E supplements. Many people do not get sufficient vitamin E from what they eat, particularly those on low-fat diets or with medical conditions that cause malabsorption of fats, such as Crohn's disease and cystic fibrosis. However, some of the allure of vitamin E supplements was lost when studies showed that they did not protect against heart disease and might raise the risk of hemorrhagic stroke. Studies also showed that synthetic vitamin E might increase the risk of prostate cancer, although natural vitamin E may lower the risk. Sales of vitamin E supplements in the U.S. have fallen in recent years but have stabilized at around $340 million according to Nutrition Business Journal. Preliminary research, largely in animals, suggests that natural vitamin E rich in gamma-tocopherol and, depending on the oil source, delta-tocopherol, may be more cancer preventive than alpha-tocopherol alone, which is the only form in synthetic vitamin E.
ConsumerLab.com is a leading provider of consumer information and independent evaluations of products that affect health and nutrition. Reviews of other popular types of supplements are available from www.consumerlab.com. Subscription to ConsumerLab.com is available online. The company is privately held and based in Westchester, New York. It has no ownership from, or interest in, companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell consumer products.