Tocopherols are a family of chemicals that are part of the larger vitamin E family. Tocopherols serve as antioxidants in the same way as the other members of this class.
These compounds are the main source of dietary vitamin E in the American diet through corn oil and soybean oil. As the more potent version of vitamin E, tocopherols have been found to be significantly beneficial to eye health and overall health.
As an antioxidant, tocopherols work to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are a natural result of cellular metabolism, but too many can be dangerous. They’re unstable and cause damage to cells and tissues, resulting in inflammation and disease. Antioxidants like tocopherols neutralize these molecules, preventing them from causing damage.
Eyes are frequently exposed to large amounts of UVA and UVB lights, which put them more at risk of free radical damage than any other body part. Each type of light affects a different part of the eye. UVA light affects your central vision by damaging the retina, and UVB light affects the front of the eye, causing damage to the cornea and lens.
Tocopherols travel through your blood directly to the retina to protect against these damaging rays of light.
In many cases, damage to the retina has already been done. The process of aging and prolonged exposure to harmful lights causes damage and degeneration.
Macular degeneration is a common eye disease associated with aging, but it can be prevented. Once the retina is damaged, it cannot be repaired, so prevention is the only way to halt vision loss in this case. Tocopherols have the ability to prevent the damage caused.
Exposure to harmful lights increases oxidative damage in the eyes, which causes cells to degenerate and the neovascularization of the retina. When this happens, you will develop a loss in central vision as the blood vessels leak and push the retina out of place. Tocopherols can inhibit the formation of new blood vessels, which is a process known as angiogenesis. By preventing the process that leads to abnormal blood vessel growth, macular degeneration can be stopped.
Excessive exposure to UVB light causes free radical damage to the cornea and lens, which work to direct light for focus. Oxidative damage causes the lens to become cloudy, causing the development of cataracts, which is common in older adults. Tocopherols help to protect the lens as well as the retina, and they can prevent this oxidative damage from occurring.
Tocopherols provide protection by influencing the lens antioxidant enzymes found naturally in the eye. In addition to this, tocopherols are found to reduce the levels of a lipid peroxidation end product known as malondialdehyde. This product is found in high concentrations in individuals with cataracts, and once reduced, the lens proteins return to normal ratios, and vision can be cleared.
The eyes receive the most protection from tocopherols and vitamin E, but there are other areas of the body that can benefit. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of tocopherols make them a beneficial compound for your overall health.
♦ Improved heart health: Inflammation and free radical damage are linked to blood vessel damage and heart disease. By reducing inflammation and neutralizing free radicals, tocopherols reduce the risk of certain factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease. Specifically, tocopherols have a significant impact on high cholesterol, thereby reducing the risk of clogged arteries and stroke.
♦ Protect your brain: Disease such as Alzheimer’s and dementia involve neurodegenerative loss. This loss is associated with both free radical damage and inflammation. Tocopherols can fight the inflammation and reduce oxidative damage to protect the brain. Studies have shown that tocopherol activity can fight neurodegenerative disease or slow the progression.
♦ Cancer prevention: Free radicals and oxidative damage is a major factor in cancer. Studies show that tocopherols promote the death of cancer cells as a result of preventing free radical damage. Individuals with colon, prostate, liver, lung, breast, skin, and pancreatic cancers can benefit from tocopherol supplements in addition to their cancer therapy. Vitamin E deficiency has been linked to an increased risk for certain cancers, and tocopherols are the best way to reverse this deficiency.
♦ Prevent bone loss: Tocopherols reduce free radical damage of the bone, which contributes to bone loss. This is especially beneficial to smokers, as nicotine increases bone loss and the risk of osteoporosis. Tocopherols can reduce this bone loss as well as support bone growth and bone replacement.
The daily recommended dose for tocopherols is 15 milligrams once a day. Depending on your dietary intake of vitamin E, you may be able to take up to 1000 milligrams per day.
As with any supplements, tocopherols are safe for use, so long as recommended dosages are followed. Common side effects reported with taking tocopherols include:
♦ Blurred vision
The risk of potential side effects will increase if the daily recommended intake is exceeded.
Tocopherols can also interact with certain medications that include ferrous sulfate or iron sucrose. Consult with your doctor before starting a supplement that contains tocopherols.
Tocopherols have shown significant promise for improving eye health and overall health. Tocopherols supplements are usually made with natural palm oil, which contains the most potent tocopherols. There are also few to no side effects when dosage recommendations are followed.
As a safe and natural alternative to medication, tocopherols can protect your eyes from the every day harmful environment around us. As a bonus, additional medical conditions may benefit from taking tocopherols.