Shopping cart

Your cart

Your cart is currently empty.

Continue shopping

What makes Mixed Tocopherols [Low-Alpha Type] the superior form of Vitamin E to Alpha Tocopherol for nutritional supplements?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vital nutrient that has potent antioxidant properties and has been shown to have a number of potential health benefits. There are eight different forms of vitamin E, which are classified based on their chemical structure. These forms include alpha-tocopherol, beta-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, and delta-tocopherol. Of these, alpha-tocopherol is the form most commonly found in supplements and fortified foods but all exhibit antioxidant properties. Mixed tocopherols, a form of vitamin E that contains a blend of different tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma), are often considered to be a superior form of vitamin E due to their unique benefits.

There is a significant amount of research supporting the case that a diet rich in vitamin E, which includes mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols, is associated with a lower incidence of chronic disease. However, the use of high doses of alpha-tocopherol, either natural (d-alpha tocopherol) or synthetic (dl-alpha tocopherol), as a supplement may cause harmful imbalances on inflammatory and detoxification pathways. This is likely because the eight different isomers that make up vitamin E have unique actions that support and balance each other, while supplementation with just one form of the vitamin can lead to imbalances. Some studies using alpha-tocopherol have also produced inconsistent results, further supporting the importance of consuming a variety of vitamin E isomers. 

What are mixed tocopherols?

Vitamin E is a collective term for a group of eight related compounds, including four tocopherols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, delta, and gamma). Tocopherols, which are found in a variety of plant-based foods such as vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds, are the most abundant form of vitamin E in the diet. Mixed tocopherols are a blend of different tocopherols that can vary in proportions depending on the source. Alpha-tocopherol is the most well-known form of vitamin E and is often used as a supplement, but research suggests that the other tocopherols, particularly gamma-tocopherol, may also provide unique health benefits.

In addition to their antioxidant actions within LDL and HDL cholesterol, the vitamin E isomers, which have been naturally evolved to have antioxidant activity, also reside in lipid bilayers where they influence cell signalling, membrane-resident enzymes, and other membrane-dependent processes. Their functions extend beyond simply serving as chain-breaking inhibitors of lipid peroxidation.

Why are mixed tocopherols a superior form of vitamin E?

Mixed tocopherols, a form of vitamin E, are considered a superior form to alpha-tocopherol alone for several reasons. First, research has shown that mixed tocopherols are more biologically active than alpha-tocopherol alone. In a study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, mixed tocopherols were found to be more effective at scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) and inhibiting lipid peroxidation than alpha-tocopherol alone. This suggests that mixed tocopherols may have a stronger antioxidant effect and better protect cells from oxidative stress.

In addition, mixed tocopherols may have a more balanced effect on the immune system compared to alpha-tocopherol. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that mixed tocopherols had a more balanced effect on immune function, while alpha-tocopherol had a pro-inflammatory effect. This suggests that mixed tocopherols may be more beneficial for supporting a healthy immune system.

Multiple studies have also suggested that mixed tocopherols may be more effective at reducing the risk of certain diseases. A review published in the journal Nutrients found that mixed tocopherols may be more effective at reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases compared to alpha-tocopherol alone.

Furthermore, mixed tocopherols have demonstrated significant therapeutic potential and may be considered safer when used as a nutritional supplement. Alpha-tocopherol, especially synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol, may be pro-oxidant and can disrupt detoxification enzymes and immune function, as well as promote inflammation. Supplementation with alpha-tocopherol alone may also decrease gamma-tocopherol levels, which can increase inflammation. It is important to consider the form and dosage of vitamin E when considering supplementation.

Potential health benefits of mixed tocopherols

Mixed tocopherols, a form of vitamin E, have been shown to have a number of potential health benefits beyond their antioxidant and immune-supportive properties.

One potential benefit is their ability to support cardiovascular health. A study published in the journal Atherosclerosis found that mixed tocopherols were effective at reducing LDL cholesterol and preventing the formation of plaque in the arteries, suggesting that they may be beneficial for reducing the risk of heart disease.

Mixed tocopherols have also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial for treating and preventing certain inflammatory conditions. A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that mixed tocopherols were effective at reducing inflammation in human cells, suggesting they may be useful for reducing inflammation in the body.

In addition, mixed tocopherols may have a protective effect against certain types of cancer. A study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research found that mixed tocopherols were effective at reducing the proliferation of breast cancer cells, suggesting they may be beneficial for preventing the development of certain types of cancer.

Mixed tocopherols may also have a protective effect against cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. A study published in the journal Aging and Disease found that mixed tocopherols were effective at reducing the accumulation of amyloid-beta, a protein associated with the development of Alzheimer's disease. This suggests that mixed tocopherols may be beneficial for preventing cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.


In conclusion, mixed tocopherols are a superior form of vitamin E due to their unique benefits, including their stronger antioxidant effect, balanced immune-supportive properties, and potential to reduce the risk of certain diseases. 

While dietary intake of vitamin E is important for maintaining adequate levels in the body, it is possible to obtain this nutrient in the biologically active and bioavailable form of mixed (low-alpha type) tocopherols with vitamin supplements. However, the best way to get the essential nutrients your body needs is to eat a variety of whole, unprocessed, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods. These types of food ensure that you are getting a wide range of nutrients, which may include vitamin E, and should not be replaced by vitamin and mineral supplements alone.

References and additional reading

  • Liu, Meilin; Wallin, Rolf; Wallmon, Agneta; Saldeen, Tom. Mixed Tocopherols Have a Stronger Inhibitory Effect on Lipid Peroxidation Than α-Tocopherol Alone. Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology 39(5):p 714-721, May 2002. doi: 10.1097/00005344-200205000-00012. PMID: 11973415.

  • Jiang Q. Natural forms of vitamin E: metabolism, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory activities and their role in disease prevention and therapy. Free Radic Biol Med. 2014 Jul;72:76-90. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2014.03.035. Epub 2014 Apr 3. PMID: 24704972; PMCID: PMC4120831.

  • Grimm MO, Stahlmann CP, Mett J, Haupenthal VJ, Zimmer VC, Lehmann J, Hundsdörfer B, Endres K, Grimm HS, Hartmann T. Vitamin E: Curse or Benefit in Alzheimer's Disease? A Systematic Investigation of the Impact of α-, γ- and δ-Tocopherol on Aß Generation and Degradation in Neuroblastoma Cells. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Jun;19(6):646-56. doi: 10.1007/s12603-015-0506-z. PMID: 26054501.

  • Yang CS, Suh N, Kong AN. Does vitamin E prevent or promote cancer? Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 May;5(5):701-5. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-12-0045. Epub 2012 Apr 3. PMID: 22490437; PMCID: PMC3502042.

  • Wagner, J.G., Jiang, Q., Harkema, J.R., Illek, B., Patel, D.D., Ames, B.N. and Peden, D.B., 2007. Ozone enhancement of lower airway allergic inflammation is prevented by γ-tocopherol. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 43(8), pp.1176-1188.

  • Saldeen, T., Li, D. and Mehta, J.L., 1999. Differential effects of α-and γ-tocopherol on low-density lipoprotein oxidation, superoxide activity, platelet aggregation and arterial thrombogenesis. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 34(4), pp.1208-1215.

  • Rizvi S, Raza ST, Ahmed F, Ahmad A, Abbas S, Mahdi F. The role of vitamin e in human health and some diseases. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2014 May;14(2):e157-65. Epub 2014 Apr 7. PMID: 24790736; PMCID: PMC3997530.

  • Free Radical Biology and Medicine, "Mixed tocopherols are more effective inhibitors of lipid peroxidation than alpha-tocopherol." 

  • Mills, K, Lay, J, Wu, W, Robinette, C, Kesic, MJ, Dreskin, SC, Peden, DB, Hernandez, M. Vitamin E, γ-tocopherol, diminishes ex vivo basophil response to dust mite allergen. Allergy 2014; 69: 541–544.

  • Yoshikawa, S., Morinobu, T., Hamamura, K., Hirahara, F., Iwamoto, T. and Tamai, H., 2005. The effect of γ-tocopherol administration on α-tocopherol levels and metabolism in humans. European journal of clinical nutrition, 59(8), pp.900-905.

  • Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, "Low-alpha-tocopherol mixed tocopherols are more effective inhibitors of lipid peroxidation than alpha-tocopherol in human cells."

  • Jiang, Q., Elson-Schwab, I., Courtemanche, C. and Ames, B.N., 2000. γ-Tocopherol and its major metabolite, in contrast to α-tocopherol, inhibit cyclooxygenase activity in macrophages and epithelial cells. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97(21), pp.11494-11499.

  • Burbank, A.J., Duran, C.G., Almond, M., Wells, H., Jiang, Q., Yang, C., Wang, T., Zhou, H., Hernandez, M.L. and Peden, D.B., 2017. A short course of gamma-tocopherol mitigates LPS-induced inflammatory responses in humans ex vivo. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 140(4), pp.1179-1181.

  • R.V. Cooney, A.A. Franke, P.J. Harwood, V. Hatch-Pigott, L.J. Custer, L.J. Mordan. γ-Tocopherol detoxification of nitrogen dioxide: superiority to α-tocopherol. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 90 (5) (1993), pp. 1771-1775.

  • Jiang, Q., 2022. Metabolism of natural forms of vitamin E and biological actions of vitamin E metabolites. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 179, pp.375-387.

  • Hensley, K., Benaksas, E.J., Bolli, R., Comp, P., Grammas, P., Hamdheydari, L., Mou, S., Pye, Q.N., Stoddard, M.F., Wallis, G. and Williamson, K.S., 2004. New perspectives on vitamin E: γ-tocopherol and carboxyethylhydroxychroman metabolites in biology and medicine. Free radical biology and medicine, 36(1), pp.1-15.

  • Jiang, Z., Yin, X. and Jiang, Q., 2011. Natural forms of vitamin E and 13′-carboxychromanol, a long-chain vitamin E metabolite, inhibit leukotriene generation from stimulated neutrophils by blocking calcium influx and suppressing 5-lipoxygenase activity, respectively. The Journal of Immunology, 186(2), pp.1173-1179.

  • Williamson, K.S., Gabbita, S.P., Mou, S., West, M., Pye, Q.N., Markesbery, W.R., Cooney, R.V., Grammas, P., Reimann-Philipp, U., Floyd, R.A. and Hensley, K., 2002. The nitration product 5-nitro-γ-tocopherol is increased in the Alzheimer brain. Nitric Oxide, 6(2), pp.221-227.

  • Jiang Q, Im S, Wagner JG, Hernandez ML, Peden DB. Gamma-tocopherol, a major form of vitamin E in diets: Insights into antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, mechanisms, and roles in disease management. Free Radic Biol Med. 2022 Jan;178:347-359. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2021.12.012. Epub 2021 Dec 9. PMID: 34896589; PMCID: PMC8826491.

  • Qing Jiang, Stephan Christen, Mark K Shigenaga, Bruce N Ames, γ-Tocopherol, the major form of vitamin E in the US diet, deserves more attention, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 74, Issue 6, December 2001, Pages 714–722,

  • Reiter E, Jiang Q, Christen S. Antiinflammatory properties of a- and γ-tocopherol. Mol Aspects Med . 28 (2007) 668-691. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2007.01.003. Epub 2007 Jan 11. PMID: 17316780; PMCID: PMC2613571.

  • Liu M, Wallmon A, Olsson-Mortlock C, Wallin R, et al. Mixed tocopherols inhibit platelet aggregation in humans: potential mechanisms. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Mar;77(3):700-6. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/77.3.700. PMID: 12600864.

  • McCarty MF. Gamma-tocopherol may promote effective no synthase function by protecting tetrahydrobiopterin from peroxynitrite. Med Hypotheses. 2007;69(6):1367-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2004.11.050. Epub 2007 Sep 6. PMID: 17825498.

  • Christen S, Woodall AA, Shigenaga MK, et al. gamma-tocopherol traps mutagenic electrophiles such as NO(X) and complements alpha-tocopherol: physiological implications. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Apr 1;94(7):3217-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.94.7.3217. PMID: 9096373; PMCID: PMC20349.

  • Ohrvall M, Sundlöf G, Vessby B. Gamma, but not alpha, tocopherol levels in serum are reduced in coronary heart disease patients. J Intern Med. 1996 Feb;239(2):111-7. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2796.1996.410753000.x. PMID: 8568478.

  • Kontush A, Spranger T, Reich A, Baum K, Beisiegel U. Lipophilic antioxidants in blood plasma as markers of atherosclerosis: the role of alpha-carotene and gamma-tocopherol. Atherosclerosis. 1999;144:117–22.

  • Ruiz Rejon F, Martin-Pena G, Granado F, et al. Plasma status of retinol, alpha- and gamma-tocopherols, and main carotenoids to first myocardial infarction: case control and followup study. Nutrition. 2002;18(1):26- 31. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(01)00683-9. PMID: 11827760.

  • Sato, C., Kaneko, S., Sato, A., Virgona, N., Namiki, K. and Yano, T., 2017. Combination effect of δ-tocotrienol and γ-tocopherol on prostate cancer cell growth. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 63(5), pp.349-354.

  • Devaraj S, Leonard S, Traber MG, Jialal I. Gamma-tocopherol supplementation alone and in combination with alpha-tocopherol alters biomarkers of oxidative stress and inflammation in subjects with metabolic syndrome. Free Radic Biol Med. 2008 Mar 15;44(6):1203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.12.018. Epub 2007 Dec 23. PMID: 18191645; PMCID: PMC2676174.

  • Campbell SE, Stone WL, Lee S, et al. Comparative effects of RRR-alpha- and RRR-gamma-tocopherol on proliferation and apoptosis in human colon cancer cell lines. BMC Cancer. 2006 Jan 17;6:13. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-6-13. PMID: 16417629; PMCID: PMC1379650.

  • Moyad MA, Brumfield SK, Pienta KJ. Vitamin E, alpha- and gamma-tocopherol, and prostate cancer. Semin Urol Oncol. 1999;17:85- 90. 

  • Freiser, H. and Jiang, Q., 2009. γ-Tocotrienol and γ-tocopherol are primarily metabolized to conjugated 2-(β-carboxyethyl)-6-hydroxy-2, 7, 8-trimethylchroman and sulfated long-chain carboxychromanols in rats. The Journal of nutrition, 139(5), pp.884-889.

  • Burbank AJ, Duran CG, Pan Y, Burns P, Jones S, Jiang Q, Yang C, Jenkins S, Wells H, Alexis N, Kesimer M, Bennett WD, Zhou H, Peden DB, Hernandez ML. Gamma tocopherol-enriched supplement reduces sputum eosinophilia and endotoxin-induced sputum neutrophilia in volunteers with asthma. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018 Apr;141(4):1231-1238.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.06.029. Epub 2017 Jul 20. PMID: 28736267; PMCID: PMC5775926.

  • Wagner KH, Kamal-Eldin A, Elmadfa I. Gamma-tocopherol--an underestimated vitamin? Ann Nutr Metab. 2004;48(3):169-88. doi: 10.1159/000079555. Epub 2004 Jul 12. PMID: 15256801.

  • Helzlsouer KJ, Huang HY, Alberg AJ, et al. Association between alpha-tocopherol, gamma-tocopherol, selenium, and subsequent prostate cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000;92:2018–23. PMID: 10332921.

  • Huang, H., He, Y., Cui, X.X., Goodin, S., Wang, H., Du, Z.Y., Li, D., Zhang, K., Tony Kong, A.N., DiPaola, R.S. and Yang, C.S., 2014. Potent inhibitory effect of δ-tocopherol on prostate cancer cells cultured in vitro and grown as xenograft tumors in vivo. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 62(44), pp.10752-10758.

  • Dieber-Rotheneder, M., Puhl, H., Waeg, G., Striegl, G. and Esterbauer, H., 1991. Effect of oral supplementation with D-alpha-tocopherol on the vitamin E content of human low density lipoproteins and resistance to oxidation. Journal of Lipid Research, 32(8), pp.1325-1332.

  • Galli F, Stabile AM, Betti M, Conte C, Pistilli A, Rende M, Floridi A, Azzi A. The effect of alpha- and gamma-tocopherol and their carboxyethyl hydroxychroman metabolites on prostate cancer cell proliferation. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2004 Mar 1;423(1):97-102. doi: 10.1016/ PMID: 14871472.

  • Chen H, Li D, Saldeen T, Romeo F, Mehta JL. Mixed tocopherol preparation is superior to alpha-tocopherol alone against hypoxia-reoxygenation injury. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002 Feb 22;291(2):349-53. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.2002.6439. PMID: 11846411.

  • Traber, M. G., & Sies, H. (1997). Vitamin E: beyond antioxidant function. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 66(2), 703S-719S.

  • Goodin, S., Kim, I., Lee, M.J., Shih, W.J., Orlick, M., Zheng, X. and Yang, C.S., 2021. Plasma, Prostate and Urine Levels of Tocopherols and Metabolites in Men after Supplementation with a γ-Tocopherol-Rich Vitamin E Mixture. Nutrition and Cancer, 73(11-12), pp.2740-2750.

  • Galli, F. and Azzi, A. (2010), Present trends in vitamin E research. BioFactors, 36: 33-42.

  • M G Traber, L Packer, Vitamin E: beyond antioxidant function, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 62, Issue 6, December 1995, Pages 1501S–1509S, PMID: 7495251.

  • Meydani, M., Meydani, S. N., & Blumberg, J. B. (1997). Vitamin E and immune response in the elderly. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 66(2), 1192S-1196S.

  • Lewis ED, Meydani SN, Wu D. Regulatory role of vitamin E in the immune system and inflammation. IUBMB Life. 2019 Apr;71(4):487-494. doi: 10.1002/iub.1976. Epub 2018 Nov 30. PMID: 30501009; PMCID: PMC7011499.

  • Meydani SN, Meydani M, Blumberg JB, Leka LS, Siber G, Loszewski R, Thompson C, Pedrosa MC, Diamond RD, Stollar BD. Vitamin E supplementation and in vivo immune response in healthy elderly subjects. A randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 1997 May 7;277(17):1380-6. doi: 10.1001/jama.1997.03540410058031. PMID: 9134944.

  • Traber, M. G. (2017). Vitamin E: Isomers, Forms, and Their Role in Human Health. Nutrients, 9(11), 1241.

  • Traber, M. G., & Atkinson, J. (2007). Vitamin E, antioxidant and nothing more. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 43(1), 4-15. doi: 10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2007.03.024. Epub 2007 Mar 31. PMID: 17561088; PMCID: PMC2040110.

  • Meydani, M., Han, S. N., Hamer, D. H., & Wu, D. (1998). Vitamin E supplementation enhances cell-mediated immunity in healthy elderly subjects. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 67(4), 564-568.

  • Leng, X., Chen, L., & Zhen, Y. (2015). Antioxidant vitamin E: sources, metabolism, and functions in humans. Nutrients, 7(2), 1499-522.

  • Kim, H.-K. and Han, S.N. (2019), Vitamin E: Regulatory role on gene and protein expression and metabolomics profiles. IUBMB Life, 71: 442-455.

  • Devaraj, S., Jialal, I., & Traber, M. G. (1998). Supplementation with a combination of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and gamma-tocopherol decreases oxidative stress markers in humans. The Journal of Nutrition, 128(6), 1051-1056.

  • Niki, E. (2005). Role of vitamin E in the regulation of immune function. Nutrition reviews, 63(8), 270-278.

  • Brigelius-Flohe, R. Traber. "MG (1999). Vitamin E: function and metabolism." The FASEB Journal: 1147-1155.

  • Traber, M. G., & Sies, H. (1995). Vitamin E: function and metabolism. The FASEB Journal, 9(9), 526-532.

  • Lara Pizzorno, L., MDiv, MA, LMT (n.d.). Beyond α-Tocopherol: A Review of Natural Vitamin E’s Therapeutic Potential in Human Health and Disease: Part I. Longevity Medicine Review.

  • Lara Pizzorno, L., MDiv, MA, LMT (n.d.). Beyond α-Tocopherol: A Review of Natural Vitamin E’s Therapeutic Potential in Human Health and Disease: Part II. Longevity Medicine Review.

  • Verywell Fit. “Are Mixed Tocopherols Better Than Vitamin E?,” July 7, 2021.


If you discover an error in an article or on our website, you may use the following form to report it. We thank you for your diligence and attention to detail.


The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.