Warning! Some readers may have their vitamin E knowledge foundation seriously “adjusted” by this provocative discussion. A few readers may be disturbed or even shocked by the “growing gorilla in the room,” suggesting that the most common form of vitamin E in supplements (alpha-tocopherol) may detrimentally interfere with other natural forms of vitamin E. As the body of science grows about the forms of vitamin E, surprises occur. Dogma must adapt to discovery. The objective is to utilize the new information to obtain even greater health benefits.

In 1980, you couldn’t find yogurt in a supermarket. By the early 1990s, Peter Roy and John Mackey of Austin, TX-based Whole Foods Markets were “rolling up” the largest independent natural products retailers around the U.S. to form the first national chain of “supernatural” supermarkets. By the 2000s, every conventional supermarket of any size was carrying not only yogurt, but also all natural foods categories and capturing significant natural market share.

Even if you’re not a huge sports fan, it’s hard not to get immersed in the Olympic Games. How could you not be in awe of Team USA with the Fab Five gymnasts, the Dream Team (version 6.0) and the “The Greatest Swimmer of All Time” to root for?  In typical American style, we sent the best of the best and they did us proud with their impressive performances. These athletes are models of determination, strength and talent.

While stressed, your body is in an emergency state: your brain releases adrenaline and cortisol (two chemicals that could cause depression), stress hormones cause your liver to produce more blood sugar and increase your risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease, among other possible risks. But don’t worry; there are many natural ways to avoid stress and its hazardous side effects.

Last month, we discussed the tocotrienol form of vitamin E and cancer prevention with Dr. Barrie Tan. We talked about the differences between the tocotrienol and tocopherol forms of vitamin E and that tocotrienols have proven to contain some exceptional properties that are not shared by tocopherols. This month, we will examine additional specific roles of tocotrienol compared to the tocopherol forms of vitamin E with Dr. Barrie Tan, Ph.D. These roles include reducing heart disease risk and controlling inflammation, as well as supporting nerve health and protecting against radiation and bacteria.

The decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not been officially announced as of this column’s writing, but Senate staff confirms that, on June 19th, Senators Tom Harkin and Orrin Hatch were informed in a personal meeting with FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg and Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor that a revision of the FDA’s Draft Guidance for Industry: Dietary Supplements: New Dietary Ingredient Notifications and Related Issues may be attempted in the future.

Is it always the Big Guys who win? Not if you ask Rudy Ruettiger, who dreamed of playing on Notre Dame’s prestigious football team as a defensive end. The odds were stacked against him. Not only did his slight stature (just 5’ 6”, 165 lbs) put him at a severe disadvantage, but his learning disability made getting the grades required for admission a huge challenge. Nonetheless, Rudy kept his eye on the prize. He worked hard, transferred to the university and earned a walk-on spot on the practice squad.

Gone are the days when supplements came in just pill form. Modern science has created for consumers several options for taking supplements, but the question remains: which way is best?

What are tocotrienols and why should you care? Let’s look at some of the recent news about tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E that involves the prevention of cancer, heart disease and inflammation, as well as being important to nerve health and protective against radiation and bacteria. We’ll also discuss whether the form of vitamin E in most dietary supplements is the primary form of vitamin E in American diets, and if not, can it matter?