This post was originally published on January 26, 2012 and updated on June 17, 2020.

The American Heart Association estimates that 795,000 Americans will suffer from a new or recurring stroke this year, of whom 137,000 will die. The cost of stroke-related care and disability in the United States is expected to reach $73.3 billion dollars for 2010.

The good news is that an estimated 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Simple things such as keeping your blood pressure in check, not smoking, lowering your cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight are just a few ways of lowering your risk. There’s something else you may want to start doing now to help protect your brain should you ever have a stroke.

Researchers are uncovering exciting evidence that supplementing your diet with a natural form of vitamin E called alpha tocotrienol may help protect your brain’s sensitive nerve cells, possibly limiting the damage if you have a stroke and helping to accelerate recovery of functional loss.

This is an exciting time in tocotrienol research. Alpha tocotrienol is more potent than the more commonly available forms of vitamin E in its ability to help protect your brain from damage or death. I use one of the richest and most consistently pure sources of alpha tocotrienol – extracted from Malaysian Crude Palm fruit oil– in my research.

What are tocotrienols?

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. The other four are called tocotrienols, nutrients which function completely differently than tocopherols. Most vitamin E supplements do not contain alpha tocotrienol.

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Tocotrienols are nature’s neuro-protectors

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. New research data is now emerging that shows alpha tocotrienols can lessen that damage.

I have proven that consumption of tocotrienols over a period of time is the only way to bathe the brain’s neurons with this protective ingredient. And because tocotrienols are also potent antioxidants, they help to protect the brain from other free radical damage.

Unlike parts of Asia, we’re a tocotrienol-deficient nation. We simply don’t have enough of it in our diets. To help protect your brain, consider supplementing your diet with 100 mgs twice a day of vitamin E from Malaysian palm fruit oilwhich is rich in alpha tocotrienol. It takes about eight to 10 weeks of supplementation to build up to an adequate level in your system.