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Home > Articles on Health > Tocotrienols

Tocotrienols

New Kid on the Block? Tocotrienols are beginning to make a splash, but they are not new to AIM Members.

If you read a lot of health-and-nutrition-type magazines, you’ll have seen some advertisements for a new health substance. These ads say things like maintain healthy cholesterol and heart health. These ads are talking about something that AIM brought to AIM Members 19 months ago: tocotrienols.

When AIM included tocotrienols in AIM CellSparc 360 in February 1997, there might have been a fair amount of head scratching.Tocotrienols? What are they? For new Members then, we’d like to tell you about this old-to-AIM-but-new-to-others substance.

When you attempt to explain tocotrienols, you can cause confusion. That is because, scientifically speaking, tocotrienols are a type of the well-know antioxidant, vitamin E.

For those who need to know, "vitamin E" actually describes two groups of four related compounds: tocopherols and tocotrienols. However, in "everyday" usage, when the average person, or the average doctor, speaks of vitamin E, he or she is referring to tocopherols. The second group, tocotrienols, largely has been ignored. This is because researchers believed tocotrienols had lesser "value" than tocopherols. We are now discovering that this is not true: Tocotrienols may be every bit as healthful as what most of us know as vitamin E.

Tocotrienols and health

According to Qureshi and Qureshi (Tocotrienols, novel hypocholesterolemic agents with antioxidant properties; unpublished), a number of reports from the 1970s and 80s established that populations that consume large amounts of grains have lower incidences of cardiovascular disease. Research and exploration continued and eventually alpha-tocotrienol was isolated and identified as a substance responsible for the lowering of fat and cholesterol levels.

The first tocotrienols studies examined cholesterol levels in animals. Tocotrienols’ apparent cholesterol-lowering effect eventually led to clinical trials.

In 1991, Qureshi and Qureshi (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1991. 53:4. Supp 1021S-1026S) studied tocotrienols’ effect in a pilot test with hypercholesterolemic humans. In this double-blind, crossover test, dietary supplementation with tocotrienols resulted in drops of 13 percent and 15 percent in total cholesterol after 14 and 28 days, respectively, and drops of 4 percent and 8 percent in LDL cholesterol in 14 and 28 days, respectively. The placebo group was given corn oil and recorded no changes.

Significantly, when the tocotrienol group switched over to the corn oil group, serum cholesterol levels continued to drop for 6 weeks. This indicates that tocotrienols may be stored in the lipids and that they may be protected by tocopherols.

Later studies in the 1990s bear out tocotrienols’ potential health benefits. They all indicate that tocotrienols indeed lower cholesterol levels.

So, have tocotrienols established themselves on the health block? Although the body of research on tocotrienols is not large, it does point to spectacular benefits. According to Carl Germano, M.A., R.D., CNS, "it is apparent that their [tocotrienols] activity and importance rank them as one of the most important class of nutritional compounds for the prevention and treatment of disease.

What is vitamin E?

Vitamin E is the term used to describe eight naturally occurring, essential, fat-soluble nutrients: alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma-tocopherols plus a class of compounds related to vitamin E called alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocotrienols.

Tocopherols are found in corn, soybeans, and olive oil and are universally acknowledged as playing a role in reducing the risk of developing heart disease and other debilitating illnesses. When the average person, or the average doctor, speaks of vitamin E, he or she is referring to tocopherols.

Tocotrienols are just starting to become known to both the research community and the public. They are found in palm, rice bran, and barley oils. An increasing body of research is establishing many possible health benefits for them.


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CellSparc AIM CellSparc360
Combines CoQ10 with tocotrienols and fish oil to provide one of the highest quality CoQ10 products on the market.
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