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These are the forms of vitamin E found in food. They are ready to go to work as soon as they are absorbed from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. But the problem with these fast-acting forms of vitamin E is that they sometimes begin their work even before they enter the bloodstream.
These potent, natural antioxidants sometimes spend all their free radical fighting power dealing with conditions in the bottle, not the bloodstream. To prevent degradation of these forms of vitamin E in supplements, manufacturers make vitamin E esters.
An ester is a chemical combination of an alcohol and an acid. A vitamin E ester is a chemical combination of a vitamin E alcohol, such as alpha-tocopherol, with a naturally occurring acid, such as acetic acid.
Acetic acid, as you know, is the acid found in vinegar. Combining alpha-tocopherol and acetate from acetic acid creates alpha-tocopheryl acetate, one of 32 ester forms of vitamin E that are far more stable for long-term storage.
Acetic acid is just one of a four naturally occurring, organic acids commonly used to make vitamin E esters. When manufacturers use acetic acid, they create vitamin E acetates. If they use succinic acid, the resulting products are vitamin E succinates.
There are also vitamin E linoleates, made by combining one of the eight forms of vitamin E alcohols with linoleic acid, and vitamin E nicotinates, made by combining vitamin E with nicotinic acid. But vitamin E acetates and vitamin E succinates are by far the most common forms of vitamin E.
Stability is the objective behind the making of vitamin E acetates.
When a vitamin E acetate is sealed in a capsule and the capsule is stored in the jar flushed with nitrogen, the supplement stays fresh and ready for use for years-until you open the jar!
Most of the time, however, that jar of the best quality vitamin E capsules (not the kind you buy in a discount store) will contain vitamin E succinate, not vitamin E acetate. And there's a good reason. Vitamin E acetates go to work faster in the body, but vitamin E succinates build up reserves faster in the liver.
Also, vitamin E succinate is a nice, white powder that can be mixed with other nutrients to make multivitamins. Vitamin E acetate isn't as "friendly" to other ingredients in a multivitamin capsule. Is all of this just a little confusing?
Here are the five things you really need to know about the different forms of vitamin E.
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