Vitamin E has long been known for its value in healing and protecting our skin. The vast majority of skin care products contain it because of the antioxidant properties. Your skin has a lot of enemies and is protected from this laundry list in large part by Vitamin E. Drugs, ultra violet light, smoking to name just a few all have their impacts minimized by this vitamin. While very beneficial, is this all they do? No, the many forms of vitamin E have lots of health uses and benefits.

There are actually 8 separate "isoforms" of this vitamin. An isoform, according to Wiktionary, are several different forms of the same protein. So called "Vitamin E" is a catch all phrase for all 8 forms. While all 8 belong to the same family and all provide you with significant cellular protection they are not the same.

Alpha Tocopherol is the star of the group and is probably what you are taking when you buy Vitamin supplements and what is placed in the creams and lotions that you use. It should be noted that there are some studies that have shown issues with what your body is able to absorb, or bioavailability, of synthetic Alpha-Tocopherol vs. the natural version of the same isoform. Doctors usually recommend natural forms because they are considered nearly twice as useable by the body. You know if what you are taking is synthetic if there is an "l" in the title. For example dl-alpha-tocopherol is a synthetic vitamin.

There are two different forms and four types of each form when you're talking about vitamin E. Lets look at the tocopherol family first which includes the afore mentioned alpha along with beta, gamma, and delta tocopherol. These are the chemically larger of the two forms and have a greater occurrence in the body. Over 90% of the vitamin E in in your body are tocopherols. You can get these forms through supplementation or foods such as pecans, walnuts and peanuts, eggs, milk and leafy green vegetables. Vegetable oils are also great sources of these vitamin forms in our diets.

Tocotrienols also come in the alpha, beta, gamma, and delta varieties and are similar, if smaller chemically. If you are deficient in other vitamin E's (tocopherols) your body can satisfy those deficiencies by using tocotrienols. They are present in lesser amounts in the same foods as the better known tocopherols but are especially plentiful in palm oil.

Not nearly as much research has been done tocotrienols. This mainly due to the way the body treats them. The amount of all forms of vitamin E in your blood depends on your liver. Your liver gets these after all the forms are absorbed by the small intestine. Then it secretes alpha-tocopherol back into the blood stream and excretes the rest. This means that the levels of the other tocopherols and tocotrienols are much lower and have been researched much less.

What research that has been done show great promise for the tocotrienol half of the family as they have been found to have more powerful antioxidant properties than the better known tocopherols. They may be very effective in combating high cholesterol, and neurodegeneration and even have anti-cancer uses. Vitamin E and tocotrienols specifically merit further medical research. Consumers will be watching as more is understood about this great family of vitamins. Vitamin E, it isn't just for skin care anymore.