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Tocotrienols: Frequently Asked Questions

Tocotrienols: Frequently Asked Questions


Tocotrienols - FAQ’s

What Are Tocotrienols?

Tocotrienols are extracted and concentrated from rice bran oil distillate. Tocotrienols are a family of dietary supplements related to vitamin E and are considered to be powerful antioxidants. Tocotrienols can be found in the oil derived from rice bran, palm fruit, barley, and wheat germ. Commercial quantities of tocotrienols are extracted from the distillate of palm and rice bran oil. Natural sources of tocotrienols, such as rice bran oil, contain a mixture of tocotrienols and tocopherols (vitamin E). While very similar in structure to vitamin E, tocotrienols contain three double bonds in the carbon side chain of the molecule. This small difference in structure results in distinct functional differences between vitamin E and tocotrienols. Vitamin E has several forms, alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-, that are also in tocotrienols. Gamma-tocotrienol is the most prevalent form in nature, and it also appears to be the form with the strongest potential for dietary health benefits as demonstrated by recent scientific studies.

What Do Tocotrienols Do?

Scientific studies suggest that dietary intake of tocotrienols may act as cellular antioxidants that may help maintain a healthy cardiovascular system. Some researchers believe that antioxidants such as tocotrienols may help counter the effects of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation.

What Does Research Show Concerning Dietary Tocotrienols and Cardiovascular Health?

Carotid atherosclerosis refers to the narrowing of the carotid artery due to blockage or inelasticity that may result in a decrease in blood flow to the brain. Medical research suggests that patients with confirmed carotid atherosclerosis who consumed approximately 240 mg of tocotrienols/ day for 18-24 months had a decrease in the amount of cholesterol laden plaque in their carotid artery, while those receiving the placebo did not show such an effect.

What Has Been Done Regarding Tocotrienols and Cell Research?

The use of tocotrienols in breast cancer research is in its infancy, but two recent studies show some promise Cell culture studies suggest that the addition of a tocopherol/ tocotrienol blend to the culture media tends to reduce cell growth and may result in inhibiting the spread of cancer cells. Vitamin E alone did not have any effect on the cells.

In vitro and rodent studies suggest that tocotrienols may also be helpful in inhibiting other cancer cell lines and may inhibit some carcinogens

How Do Tocotrienols Act as Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are compounds that scientists believe counteract cell damage caused by excess oxygen or the activity of free radicals. Free radicals are reactive compounds generated by our normal biological processes, and their induction is accelerated by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, pollution, cigarette smoke, and other environmental and biological stress factors. If high levels of free radicals remain active in our bodies, they can break down cell membranes and damage cell DNA. Free radical activity has been implicated in a number of chronic diseases. Antioxidants; are one of the body’s natural defenses against the damage that may be caused by free radicals. Vitamin E has long been known as an important antioxidant nutrient. Tocotrienols also have antioxidant activity. Some studies suggest that the antioxidant potential of tocotrienols is even greater than that of vitamin E i