What’s the Role of Vitamin E in Prostate Health?


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Vitamin E has numerous benefits for men with prostate disorders although it is highly dependent on the type and form of Vitamin E that is consumed. That’s because there are actually eight types of vitamin E that fall into two chemically related categories known as tocopherols and tocotrienols.

Alpha-tocopherol is likely the best known of both groups, while gamma-tocopherol has been shown to fight prostate cancer and to function independently as well as synergistically with alpha-tocopherol. Gamma-tocopherol has demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties.

One important study that evaluated gamma-tocopherol, alpha-tocopherol, and selenium found that men who had the highest blood levels of gamma-tocopherol were five times less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who had the lowest levels. They also discovered that alpha-tocopherol and selenium protected against prostate cancer only when the men had a high intake of gamma-tocopherol.

We don’t hear much about tocotrienols, but a recent study highlighted how a naturally occurring mixture of tocotrienols were shown to inhibit the growth of human prostate tumors. An animal study was used in which mice with human prostate tumor xenografts were given a tocotrienol mixture for 8 weeks. The vitamin E treatment was associated with inhibition of prostate tumor growth by suppressing cell proliferation.

Other researchers have found that men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) may have lower levels of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) than men without BPH. The role of vitamin E in general and gamma-tocopherol in particular in BPH and prostatitis is not well studied, but the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may prove helpful in men who suffer with these conditions as well.

It is suggested that men get their vitamin E from food or, if taking a supplement, to take gamma-tocopherol or a supplement that contains both alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, since it’s been shown that these two forms of vitamin E work synergistically. The RDA for vitamin E is 15 mg (22.4 IU) daily.

References

Aryal M et al. Oxidative stress in benign prostate hyperplasia. Nepal Med Coll J 2007 Dec; 9(4): 222-24

Elmadfa I, Park E. Impact of diets with corn oil or olive/sunflower oils on DNA damage in healthy young men. Eur J Nutr 1999 Dec; 38(6):286-92.

Helzlsouer KJ et al. Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2000; 92:2018-23.

Huang Y et al. A naturally occurring mixture of tocotrienols inhibits the growth of human prostate tumor, associated with epigenetic modifications of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors p21 and p27. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2017 Feb; 40:155-63


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