This post was originally published on May 25, 2017 and updated on February 20, 2020.

Antioxidants help protect the body from disease. These powerful substances inhibit cell damage caused by free radicals. Richly pigmented fruits, vegetables and beans are some of the best sources of antioxidants, but they aren’t the only sources. Vitamin E tocotrienols, some of the strongest antioxidants, can be found in barley, rye and palm oil. In fact, the best source of these super-potent antioxidants is Malaysian red palm oil. You don’t need to travel the world to find nutritious tocotrienols. Malaysian certified sustainable palm oil can be found in many packaged foods from premium peanut butter to better-for-you nutrition bars to your kids’ favorite cookie.

Vitamin E tocotrienols explainedmolecular structures of antioxidants, tocotrienol and tocopherol
There are two parts to vitamin E: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Tocopherols, the more common form, are found in most multivitamins and stand-alone vitamin E supplements. Naturally occurring in nuts and seeds, tocopherols are inexpensive to obtain.

Tocotrienols are scarcer. These nutrients are minor components of select plants. Unlike tocopherols which occur naturally in most common vegetable oils, tocotrienols are only found in select oils, with red palm oil being nature’s richest source. Thanks to their unique molecular structure, tocotrienols are superior antioxidants, possessing as much as 40 to 60 times the antioxidant power of tocopherols.

Tocotrienols have been associated with numerous health benefits, including:

  • Supporting brain health and boosting recovery after a stroke. two-year human clinical study published in the American Heart Association journal, Stroke, showed that Malaysian palm oil-derived vitamin E tocotrienols support brain health by weakening the progression of white matter lesions.
  • Reducing bone loss caused by oxidation. Researchers are learning that tocotrienol consumption may lead to stronger bones. In one study, rats that were given tocotrienol supplements had less oxidation-related bone loss.
  • Protecting skin from within by fighting UV damage. As ultra-potent antioxidants, tocotrienols have been shown to limit or delay skin cell damage caused by free radicals. It’s this damage that leads to premature aging, fine lines and wrinkles.
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