What are tocotrienols? And what do they do?
I could now rant about the structural differences between the two, with the tocotrienols being an unsaturated variety of the tocopherols with a isoprenoid side chain, but I guess it is enough to know that due to differences in their molecular structure, they also differ in their effects on the human body, of which you may already have apprehended that their cholesterol lowering effects were the first to attract the attention from researchers (Qureshi. 1986). Within the last 26 years researchers from all around the world have identified additional health benefits, the most prominent of which are...
- Anti-cancer effects (Kato. 1985; Sundram. 1989; Weng. 2009),
- General antioxidant effects (Newaz. 1999),
- Brain specific antioxidant effects (Khanna. 2003),
- Exercise-specific antioxidant effects (Lee. 2009),
- Cardiovascular disease (Shibata 2009)
- Diabetic neuropathy (Kuhad. 2009)
- Bone health (Ahmad. 2005)
- Metabolic syndrome (Weng. 2011)
- Antithrombotic effects (Qureshi. 2011)
- Endocrine health (Yu. 2005)
- Liver health (Patel. 2012)
- rice bran oil (50:50 tocopherol:tocotrienol ratio),
- palm oil (25:75 tocopherol:tocotrienol ratio), and
- annatto (0.1:99.9 tocopherol:tocotrienol ratio) oil
- human breast milk (!) [though this is probably no major source for you ;-]
|Figure 1: Molecular targets (left) and proteins that directly interact with tocotrienols (right; adapted from Aggarwal. 2010)|
- the inflammatory cytokines & transcription factors: IL-1, IL-6, TNF-alpha, nf-kappabeta, IL-8 (probably involved in auto-immune reactions), PF-A4 (increases platelet aggregation and thus thrombosis risk)
- factors involved in angiogenesis and cardiocascular disease: VEGF (vascular growth factor, involved in CVD) and its receptor VEGF-r, VCAM-1 (increases adhesion of immune cells to the endothelial wall)
- kinases involved in the cell cycle and apoptotic regulators: CDK's, PKC, pERK, etc. & survivin, IAP-1 & 2 etc., but also telomerase, which are all involved in the proliferation of cancer
- enzymes involved in inflammatory processes: eNOS, iNOS, COX-2, etc.
- enzymes from the CYP cascade, which are among other involved in the clearance of estrogen, and other hormone like substances and the metabolism of drugs,
- MAPK and JNK, which exert anti-catabolic effects on muscle tissue, or
- GPX and SOD, two of the major enzymes involved in the antioxidant defenses
...how much anti-oxidants do we actually need?
|Figure 2: Total tocopherol and tocotrienol content of high vitamin E foods / oils (top) and tocopherol ratios (bottom) , data based on Whittle. 1967 and Slover. 1971|
- 80g of palm oilen (cooking oil),
- 160g of rice bran oil,
- 3kg of barley,
- 1.5kg of wheatgerm, or
- 4kg of oats
Do not stack one more, but take one out!
Instead of adding another overpriced (and probably overdosed) tocotrienol supplement to your regimen, it is thus probably wiser to simply drop any superflous and potentially harmful alpha-tocopherol only supplements which do would offset the alpha- to gamma- and delta- tocopherol ratio (this could potentially be ameliorated by taking a natural blend) and limit the total tocopherol intake to reasonable levels, as the latter has also been shown to hamper the absorption and retention of tocotrienols (Ikeda. 2003). In this context it is also noteworthy that Ping Tou Gee writes in a 2011 paper with the aptly chosen title "Unleashing the untold and misunderstood observations on vitamin E" that this fact alone would suggest that "there is a need to review critically on the dietary reference intakes recommendations" for alpha tocopherol (α-T). His bold statement that
[i]t is not known whether α-T is still essential to humans in long terms, α-T3 [alpha tocotrienol] diet appeared to produce healthy rats over five generations.is yet probably an attribution to Palm Nutraceuticals Sdn. Bhd. (which is not the aforementioned company which wants to force-feed you either their supplements or 2 cups of rice bran oil), of which he states in the acknowledgments that he thanks them "for permission to publish this paper" and further evidence for how pathetic parts of the research in the medical field is - awful this science business, isn't it?
- Aggarwal BB, Sundaram C, Prasad S, Kannappan R. Tocotrienols, the vitamin E of the 21st century: its potential against cancer and other chronic diseases. Biochem Pharmacol. 2010 Dec 1;80(11):1613-31. Epub 2010 Aug 7.
- Ahmad NS, Khalid BA, Luke DA, Ima Nirwana S. Tocotrienol offers better protection than tocopherol from free radical-induced damage of rat bone. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 2005;32:761–770
- Gee PT. Unleashing the untold and misunderstood observations on vitamin E. Genes Nutr. 2011 Feb;6(1):5-16. Epub 2010 Jul 20.
- Ikeda S, Tohyama T, Yoshimura H, Hamamura K, Abe K, Yamashita K. Dietary alpha-tocopherol decreases alpha-tocotrienol but not gamma-tocotrienol concentration in rats. J Nutr. 2003 Feb;133(2):428-34.
- Kato A, Yamaoka M, Tanaka A, Komiyama Ka, Umezawa I. Physiological effect of tocotrienol. J
Japan Oil Chem Soc (Yukugaku) 1985;34:375–376.
- Khanna S, Roy S, Ryu H, Bahadduri P, Swaan PW, Ratan RR, et al. Molecular basis of vitamin E
action: tocotrienol modulates 12-lipoxygenase, a key mediator of glutamate-induced
neurodegeneration. J Biol Chem 2003;278:43508–43515.
- Kobayashi H, Kanno C, Yamauchi K, Tsugo T. Identification of alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-
tocopherols and their contents in human milk. Biochim Biophys Acta 1975;380:282–290.
- Kuhad A, Chopra K. Attenuation of diabetic nephropathy by tocotrienol: involvement of NFkB
signaling pathway. Life Sci 2009;84:296–301.
- Lee SP, Mar GY, Ng LT. Effects of tocotrienol-rich fraction on exercise endurance capacity and
oxidative stress in forced swimming rats. Eur J Appl Physiol 2009;107:587–595.
- Mishra GD, Malik NS, Paul AA, Wadsworth ME, Bolton-Smith C. Childhood and adult dietary vitamin E intake and cardiovascular risk factors in mid-life in the 1946 British Birth Cohort. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Nov;57(11):1418-25.
- Newaz MA, Nawal NN. Effect of gamma-tocotrienol on blood pressure, lipid peroxidation and total antioxidant status in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Clin Exp Hypertens 1999;21:1297–1313.
- Patel V, Rink C, Gordillo GM, Khanna S, Gnyawali U, Roy S, Shneker B, Ganesh K, Phillips G, More JL, Sarkar A, Kirkpatrick R, Elkhammas EA, Klatte E, Miller M, Firstenberg MS, Chiocca EA, Nesaretnam K, Sen CK. Oral tocotrienols are transported to human tissues and delay the progression of the model for end-stage liver disease score in patients. J Nutr. 2012 Mar;142(3):513-9. Epub 2012 Feb 1.
- Qureshi AA, Burger WC, Peterson DM, Elson CE. The structure of an inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis isolated from barley. J Biol Chem. 1986 Aug 15;261(23):10544-50.
- Qureshi AA, Karpen CW, Qureshi N, Papasian CJ, Morrison DC, Folts JD. Tocotrienols-induced inhibition of platelet thrombus formation and platelet aggregation in stenosed canine coronary arteries. Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Apr 14;10:58.
- Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Ascherio A, Giovannucci E, Colditz GA, Willett WC. Vitamin E consumption and the risk of coronary heart disease in men. N Engl J Med. 1993 May 20;328(20):1450-6.
- Slover HT. Tocopherols in foods and fats. Lipids. 1971 May;6(5):291-6.
- Sundram K, Khor HT, Ong AS, Pathmanathan R. Effect of dietary palm oils on mammary
carcinogenesis in female rats induced by 7,12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene. Cancer Res 1989;49:1447–1451
- Shibata A, Nakagawa K, Sookwong P, Tsuduki T, Oikawa S, Miyazawa T. delta-Tocotrienol
suppresses VEGF induced angiogenesis whereas alpha-tocopherol does not. J Agric Food Chem
- Tan B. Tocotrienols: The New Vitamin E. Spacedoc.net. http://www.spacedoc.com/tocotrienols
- Weng-Yew W, Selvaduray KR, Ming CH, Nesaretnam K. Suppression of tumor growth by palm
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- Whittle KJ, Pennock JF. The examination of tocopherols by two-dimensional thin-layer chromatography and subsequent colorimetric determination. Analyst.1967 Jul;92(96):423-30.
- Yoshikawa S, Morinobu T, Hamamura K, Hirahara F, Iwamoto T, Tamai H. The effect of gamma-tocopherol administration on alpha-tocopherol levels and metabolism in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005 Aug;59(8):900-5.
- Yu FL, Gapor A, Bender W. Evidence for the preventive effect of the polyunsaturated phytolside chain in tocotrienols on 17beta-estradiol epoxidation. Cancer Detect Prev. 2005;29(4):383-8.