The vitamin E tocotrienols found so abundantly in healthy palm oil have generated a lot of excitement, particularly as human clinical research has linked them to cardiovascular and neurological health benefits. While most people have heard of Vitamin E, many are just learning about tocotrienols. And they have lots of questions!
Q. What are tocotrienols?
A. Natural vitamin E comes in eight different forms. Four of those forms are called tocopherols; these tocopherols are the type of Vitamin E most commonly found in vitamin supplements either in natural or synthetic forms.
The other four forms are called tocotrienols. These different forms have very different functions, without much overlap. Tocotrienols are potent antioxidants that have been associated with heart, liver and neurological health benefits.
Research is discovering that tocotrienols may help:
• improve total blood cholesterol
• protect the brain from stroke-induced injuries
• inhibit some types of cancer cells with encouraging results for both breast and prostate cancers
Q. What are the most common food sources of tocotrienols?
A. Tocotrienols are abundant in palm fruit oil. Other sources include cereal grains such as oat, barley and rye. Check out this handy chart to compare various cooking oils.
Q. Is there a Recommended Daily Amount set for tocotrienols?
A. Not yet. The mounting scientific evidence of tocotrienols’ health benefits only began in the 1980s.
Q. My multi-vitamin already contains vitamin E. Why should I consider getting more tocotrienols in my diet?
A. The type of vitamin E contained in most multi-vitamins is tocopherols which, as noted, offer vastly different health benefits than vitamin E tocotrienols. Unlike people in other parts of the world where palm fruit oil is a dietary staple, people who consumer the typical American diet are, as one leading researcher noted, probably “tocotrienol-deprived.”
Robin Miller is a health and nutrition editor with more than 30 years of industry experience. She researches and writes about the nutritional benefits of palm fruit oil, with the goal of giving readers factual, science-based information that will be useful in their daily lives.