Researchers in Malaysia have uncovered another reason why you may want to start eating more foods rich in Vitamin E tocotrienols. In a new study published in the January 2012 issue of Nutrition Journal, it was revealed that these super healthy nutrients are more difficult for our bodies to absorb than other more common forms of Vitamin E, and that they appear to be metabolized (used up) faster.
The good news is that you may only need a tiny amount of tocotrienols in your body to get their neuroprotective benefits, and adding them to your diet is easier than ever. One of the richest food sources for Vitamin E tocotrienols is also one of the healthiest cooking oils. Malaysian Palm Fruit Oil, which can now easily be found in most supermarkets, contains an abundance of tocotrienols and other nutrients including beta carotene, has a neutral effect on cholesterol, and can tolerate high heat cooking better than olive oil.
The two types of Vitamin E
Natural vitamin E comes in eight different forms. Four are called tocopherols, which are the forms commonly found in synthetic or natural vitamin E supplements. Tocopherols are easily absorbed by the body, and are probably best known for supporting heart health.
The other four are called tocotrienols, nutrients which function completely differently than tocopherols. Most vitamin E supplements do not contain alpha tocotrienol. When the brain is attacked by a stroke, cardiovascular disease or trauma, dangerously toxic substances can build up around the nerve cells. They can damage those cells or cause them to die. Emerging research shows alpha tocotrienols can lessen that damage.
Study reveals why you may need to replenish tocotrienols daily
Ten healthy volunteers (five men and five women) participated in this study. After the volunteers following a tocotrienol-free diet for a week, and then fasted overnight, researchers took blood samples to measure the amounts of tocotrienol and tocopherol circulating in their bodies. The volunteers were then given a meal plus either a 526 mg palm fruit oil supplement rich in tocotrienols and small amounts of tocopherols or a supplement containing only 537 mg of tocopherols. The levels of tocotrienols and tocopherols in their bloodstreams were measured after two, four, five, six, eight and 24 hours.
“Although several studies indicate that tocotrienols’ therapeutic properties may be superior to tocopherols, it was found that the body absorbs only small amounts of tocotrienols and then they disappear rapidly,” commented researcher Dr. Kalyana Sundram the corresponding author of the study. “In contrast, these researchers concluded that it is easier to get large amounts of tocopherols into your bloodstream, and that the tocopherols stay in your system longer.”
Prof. Chandan Sen, who has conducted and published a number of significant NIH-funded studies on tocotrienols, agrees with these observations. Dr. Sen is a Tenured Professor and Associate Dean for Research at The Ohio State University Medical Center. Researchers speculated that perhaps your body prefers tocotrienols over tocopherols, and uses them up first.
“Previous studies on tocotrienols have found significant health benefits at much smaller blood concentration levels than were achieved in this study,” said Dr. Sen. “That means that while it may be smart to include Vitamin E tocotrienols in your diet daily to ensure that your body has an adequate supply, you shouldn’t worry about the fact that your body will only absorb them in small amounts.”
Dr. Sen is a Tenured Professor and Associate Dean for Research at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He also serves as Vice Chairman of Research of the Department of Surgery. DR. Sen is the Editor-in-Chief of the #1 journal in the field, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. Dr. Sen’s vitamin E research is supported by NINDS of NIH.