As far as supplements go, vitamin E has many contradictory studies that have been published about it. The reason for this is that most of the research has only been done on alpha-tocopherol, while neglecting the other forms. The 8 naturally occurring forms of it are alpha-, beta-, gamma-and delta-tocopherol forms, as well as the same for tocotrienols. Although alpha and gamma-tocopherol are the most studied.
The functions of the alpha-tocopherol form include cell membrane stabilization (which Traditional Chinese Medicine would metaphorically call stabilizing and binding function), inhibition of platelet aggregation (or invigorating the blood in TCM), anti-inflammatory (or cooling in nature) and increasing immune function (or tonifying Wei Qi).
For gamma-tocopherol these would be anti-cancer (or Wei Qi tonifying), antioxidant for DNA (which could be thought of as strengthening congenital qi), increasing superoxide dismutase activity and scavenging peroxinitrite (which would both be thought of as relieving toxicity).
Deficiency of vitamin E is normally seen in fat malabsorption syndromes, in smokers and spinal-cerebellar syndromes of unknow etiology.
Natural sources of Vitamin E include nuts and seeds, unprocessed vegetable oils, whole grains, egg yolks and leafy greens. One of nature’s highest sources of gamma-tocopherol is walnuts, which is the Chinese herb Hu Tao Ren that tonifies yang and enters the (K, LI, Lu) channels.
Vitamin E supplementation has a few important rules which must be followed for safety. The reasons are as follows:
Alpha tocopherol will induce gamma deficiency.
Vitamin C and E work together and should be taken together.
Alpha tocopherol will induce a vitamin K deficiency.
Coenzyme Q10 and Vitamin E work synergistically and should also be taken together.
The easiest way to remember all this is to simply eat the above mentioned foods for your vitamin E needs to maintain health. In the event of more serious pathology, vitamin E forms that include all the sub-types should be taken along with the above vitamins.
Be Well and Be Zen
Gaby., Nutritional Medicine (2011)., Ch 22, pps. 117-25, ISBN13: 978-0-9828850-0-0. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH.
Horton et al., Principals of Human Biochemistry 4th Ed. (2006)., p. 170, ISBN: 0-13-145306-8., Prentice-Hall Publishing, Upper Saddle River, NJ
Benski, D., Gamble, A., (1993), Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica., p. 314-17., 358-59., Eastland Press Inc. Seattle, WA. ISBN: 0-939616-15-7.