Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Define That Food: Tocopherols

It's the end of National Nutrition Month, during which I've been going all Nancy Drew on my pantry to find out more about the additives and preservatives in the foods I eat.  But, its been so interesting and eye-opening that I'm going to continue it beyond this month!  I think its important to be educated about what I eat, so brace yourself for more hard-hitting investigative journalism in the future.

Today's additive came from a comment left by a reader, which thrilled me to bits because I always wonder if anyone actually reads this blog.  I've decided to believe that the comment was from someone who actually reads this because they like it, and not from my mother or any of my friends who have it shoved down their throats every day through my pleas on Facebook.  So thanks for your comment, Anonymous!

And the additive in question is...drumroll please... mixed tocopherols.

I did some research and then consulted my Super-Smart Nutrition Textbook Author friend (her name is Sharon for short) and she gave me the good news that tocopherols are simply good old-fashioned Vitamin E!  The research I did online (Googling and reading a few scientific studies that went way over my head) confirmed the news so I am happy to report that there is nothing nefarious going on with mixed tocopherols.  You're safe!

The only guideline I could find related to dosage: according to the European Food Safety Authority, adults can safely consume up to 1000 mg of mixed tocopherols a day.  I don't know what the US government has to say on it, but since Americans are mostly obese and Europeans seem to be able to eat cheese and bread all day and maintain their girlish figures, I am going to just go with that.


If you're interested in the science, here you go:  Vitamin E is an antioxidant and defends against the adverse effects of free radicals, protecting against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. As an additive in foods, it prevents the oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids, other lipids, and related compounds (such as vitamin A), which means it keeps the food pretty.  Another antioxidant approved for use as food additives is vitamin C (ascorbic acid), which I see often as an ingredient in the natural applesauce I buy for my kid.

I made my own applesauce once, and because I didn't have ascorbic acid, it turned all brown and he wouldn't eat it.  Sometimes it's just worth it to buy the yellow applesauce!

So, there you have it, Anonymous!  Mixed tocopherols are your friend!  Thanks for the question and for reading.

Anyone else out there have a food additive you want me to check out?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Be smart about what you eat; you can eat with confidence when you pay attention to the quality and quantity of your food.  Take the energy and spirit of National Nutrition Month with you beyond March and eat clean!

Good day!

1 comment:

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