Tocotrienols Background and Benefits
The vitamin E family of essential nutrients includes four tocotrienols and four tocopherols. Each member of these groups is further identified with one of the first four letters of the Greek alphabet, including alpha, beta, gamma and delta. All members of the vitamin E family exist as D and L stereoisomers, although only the D stereoisomers are biologically active. The four bioactive tocotrienols in the vitamin E family are therefore called D-alpha-tocotrienol, D-beta-tocotrienol, D-gamma-tocotrienol and D-delta-tocotrienol.
Natural sources of tocotrienols generally contain these forms of vitamin E in very low levels. The best dietary sources include vegetable oils such as palm oil and rice bran oil. Grains such as barley and wheat germ also contain tocotrienols. Additional sources of tocotrienols include annatto and saw palmetto.
The American embryologist Herbert McLean Evans discovered tocopherols in 1922. He observed that infertile female rats could become pregnant when fed wheat germ. The name tocopherol comes from the Greek words “tokos” meaning “birth” and “pherein” meaning “to carry.” The “ol” suffix at the end of “tocopherol” means that it is an alcohol.
Pennock and Whittle discovered tocotrienols in 1964 by isolating them from rubber. They named these compounds tocotrienols to reflect their structural differences with tocopherols. The primary difference between these two classes of chemicals is that a tocotrienol has three double bonds on its isoprenoid tail, which is a structure known as a triene.
The commercial production of tocotrienol generally consists of extracting it from a vegetable oil, typically rice bran oil or palm oil. The specific source of tocotrienol has a significant effect on its health benefits since tocopherols can interfere with the activity of tocotrienols. For example, the ratio of tocotrienol to tocopherol is about 1:1 in rice bran oil and about 3:1 in palm oil. Palm oil is therefore a better source of tocotrienol than rice bran oil, since the interference from tocopherol is less.
Tocomin® is a natural vitamin E complex made by ExcelVite, previously known as Carotech. ExcelVite is the first and largest producer of full-spectrum tocotrienol/tocopherol complexes. This firm is also part of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (www.rspo.org).
Tocomin® is a mixture of tocotrienols and tocopherols that are extracted from the fruits of the palm tree, known scientifically as Elaeis guineensis. This patented process uses molecular distillation that combines low temperature with an extremely high vacuum, resulting in a self-emulsifying composition. The extraction process doesn’t use organic solvents. The manufacturing facility is inspected by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and certified for both Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Tocomin® is a Kosher, Halal, non-Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) and non-soy product.
The specific components of Tocomin® include all four tocotrienols and d-alpha-tocopherol. It also contains other phytonutrients such as CoQ10, phytosterols, plant squalene and a mixture of carotenoids.
Uses of Tocotrienols
Tocotrienols are mainly used in health supplements due to its high antioxidant effects. Specific benefits include the support of heart health, and the management of cholesterol, and circulation.
Tocotrienols may help to manage blood pressure levels after three months of use.
Blood sugar management
A 2009 animal study in India and Malaysia indicates that tocotrienols may help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
Heart health support
Tocotrienols may help to maintain normal heart function, as well as reduce the deposits of plaque in the carotid artery.
Tocotrienols may help to manage the production of cholesterol by the liver. D-gamma-tocotrienol is most useful for this purpose.
Signs You May Need Tocotrienols
The signs that you may need tocotrienol supplements are generally caused by the oxidation of fats, especially in the brain and liver. You may want to take tocotrienols after strenuous exercise, when fat oxidation is most likely to cause damage. Risk factors for cardiovascular conditions such as atherosclerosis and stroke may also mean that you could benefit from tocotrienol supplements. Additional signs that you may need tocotrienols include unhealthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Other Ingredients That May Be Of Interest
Rice bran oil - Rice bran oil comes from the outer layer of rice kernels after the husks have been removed. The antioxidant gamma-oryzanol is the primary bioactive component of this oil.
Pumpkin seed oil - Pumpkin seed oil is a culinary specialty from central Europe, especially Hungary. Its primary use in health supplements is the management of an enlarged prostate gland.