There is an extensive - and growing - body of work on the benefits of Tocotrienols
Increase Life Expectancy in Cancer Patients
In 2016, more than 15.5 million living Americans had a history of cancer, and alarmingly, this number is on the rise. With such a large part of the population afflicted, it is increasingly important that research continue on how to prolong life for millions of affected individuals.
Annatto tocotrienols have been shown to:
- deliver consistent anti-tumor benefits
- hinder the rapid multiplying of cancer cells
- help chemo drugs work much better, especially in resistant and recurring cancer cells
- benefit recurrent ovarian cancer patients.
For some cancers, delta- and gamma-tocotrienols contain cancer-killing features that target cancer cells by inhibiting a key cancer promoting protein, NF-KAPPA B. Restraining NF-KAPPA B triggers a process known as apoptosis, which causes the cancer cells to self-destruct. In addition, tocotrienols reduce angiogenesis, the process tumors use to grow new blood vessels. By cutting this abnormal blood supply, tocotrienol prevents the flow of nutrients the tumors use to fuel their growth, essentially starving them.
To date, tocotrienols’ beneficial effects have been shown clinically in ovarian and pancreatic cancer, and pre-clinically for breast, prostate, lung, colon, liver, and skin cancer.
Of all the vitamin E molecules, delta- and gamma-tocotrienols attach to tumors most preferably, and, in doing so, help kill them. They do not harm normal cells and they have a penchant for aberrant ones.
Support Cardiovascular Health
The heart beats about 2.5 billion times over an average lifetime, pushing blood to every part of the body and keeping us alive. With such a fundamental, never-ending task, it is essential that this vital organ stay as healthy as possible.
- lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides
- inhibit inflammation and reduce C-reactive protein (CRP)
- increase the body’s natural antioxidant capacity
- lower blood pressure
- improve arterial function
- help regress atherosclerosis by preventing the steps involved in plaque formation
- improve the integrity and stability of plaques.
There are two main contributors to cardiovascular disease: oxidized cholesterol and inflammation. Tocotrienols address both of these, preventing the oxidation of bad (LDL) cholesterol and lowering its levels by up to 20%, while also reducing inflammation. In one clinical trial, tocotrienols reduced high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) by as much as 40%! And if that’s not enough, tocotrienols also reduce atherosclerosis by preventing the steps involved in plaque formation and by reversing already established plaques in one clinical trial.
Improve Bone Health
As we age, our normal bone strengthening properties decline. Although osteoporosis continues to affect many people, especially women, taking steps to improve bone health while we are younger can slow down the bone loss that’s naturally associated with the aging process. Finding methods to improve bone health and reduce bone degradation is necessary to lower the risk of bone fractures in aging adults.
Annatto tocotrienols have been shown to:
- promote bone turnover* rates and decrease bone resorption in clinical trials
- help increase the content of calcium in the bone, further supporting bone health
- resist bone loss in post-menopausal osteopenia subjects
- reduce oxidative stress, high levels of which have been linked with osteoporosis progression.
It is well-known that osteoporosis affects women and men disproportionately, largely due to the oxidative stress women experience with the drastic drop of estrogen during menopause. For this susceptible group, tocotrienols were clinically shown to improve bone turnover and decrease bone loss. Men can also be affected by osteoporosis and preclinical studies suggest that tocotrienols can prevent bone loss, increase bone formation (even at a genetic level), and maintain bone strength for this demographic as well. Tocotrienols’ ability to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress helps bone cells replicate and supports bone remodeling.
*Bone turnover rate refers to the speed at which your bones deteriorate and replace themselves.
Reduce Fat in the Liver
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a life-threatening condition caused by excessive fat deposits in the liver. If left untreated, and with the added insult of chronic inflammation, the condition can progress to cirrhosis. The National Institute of Health has determined that NAFLD affects eighty to one hundred million Americans, making it a serious concern for each of us.
Annatto tocotrienols reduce:
- both fat and enzymes in the liver
- inflammation of the liver
- weight and BMI in overweight patients suffering from NAFLD
- Fatty Liver Index, a scoring system reflective of liver fat content.
Beyond diet and exercise, treatment options for NAFLD are limited. Vitamin E is one of the few supplements doctors recommend to patients with fatty liver disease. It is important to note, then, that of all vitamin E forms, delta- and gamma-tocotrienols, are most effective in alleviating factors associated with fatty liver.
Promote Cell Health
Poor cell health is at the root of most chronic health conditions. The average human body consists of over 37 trillion cells, and each one of those cells needs antioxidant protection. Vitamin E is the main antioxidant found in cell walls, and is perfectly shaped to protect the cell walls’ lipids from oxidation.
- help maintain cell membrane integrity to better protect cellular functions
- protect lipids within the cell membrane from oxidation
- are a 50x stronger antioxidant than alpha-tocopherol.
What distinguishes tocotrienols from your everyday vitamin E alpha-tocopherol?
The difference lies in the “tail” structure of the vitamin E molecule. Tocopherols have a longer tail that anchors deeply into the membrane, spins on the bean-shaped cell at 1x speed to capture runaway oxygen radicals that cling to the phospholipids of the cell membrane. Tocotrienols have a shorter tail that anchors shallowly into the membrane, and spins on the bean-shaped cell at 50x speed to capture runaway oxygen radicals. Tocopherols and tocotrienols do the same thing, but tocotrienols mop up the fragile lipid radicals 50x faster than tocopherols.
Keep Inflammation at Bay
Chronic inflammation can cause many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. The traditional view of cardiovascular disease associates elevated cholesterol with clogged arteries. Surprisingly, half of patients presenting with heart attacks have normal cholesterol levels. Today, it is well-known that inflammation acts as cholesterol’s partner in crime in cardiovascular disease progression and must therefore be treated in equal measure.
- reduce prominent markers of inflammation, including CRP
- contain robust anti-inflammatory properties and strongly inhibit inflammatory response
- promote the function of certain cells that destroy damaged tissue and increase the immune system’s ability to fight inflammation
- directly block inflammatory pathways via a steroid-like anti-inflammatory mechanism
- can be combined with B vitamins and polyphenols for a powerful combined anti-inflammatory impact.
Tocotrienols were shown to have potent anti-inflammatory properties. This feature was most prominently displayed in clinical trials that showed an up to 40% reduction in C-reactive protein. Pre-clinical studies determined that of all the vitamin E forms, delta-tocotrienol has the most impressive impact on inflammation. Combining tocotrienols with other anti-inflammatory supplements, such as B vitamins and polyphenols, may yield even greater benefits for those suffering from inflammatory disorders.
Uphold Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Sustaining normal blood sugar levels is a key factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Not only do normal levels help avoid long-term health issues, they also help prevent weight gain while providing a consistent flow of energy. Sadly, health problems related to disparate blood sugar levels are reaching epidemic proportions, with 10% of the US population diagnosed with diabetes. Even more daunting is the number of Americans with pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome, estimated to be at 35% of U.S. adults. It is surely a topic that requires further attention and education.
- lower triglycerides
- improve insulin sensitivity
- help the body create and process glucose better.
Metabolic syndrome mirrors the U.S. obesity epidemic, and is characterized by a cluster of five identifying markers that include elevated triglycerides, blood pressure, and serum glucose, as well as decreased HDL and increased waist circumference. Clinical trials show that tocotrienols improve all of these markers, making it an indispensable nutrient for at least 1 in 3 Americans with metabolic syndrome.
Boost Brain Health
It goes without saying that healthy brain function is key to living a happy, healthy, and enriching life. As we age, our cognitive abilities are at risk of decline, which is why it is important to keep our mind sharp. Vitamin E levels, especially tocotrienols, may also play a critical role in cognition, as suggested by researchers at Sweden’s renowned Karolinska Institute.
- provide protection for brain cells through their anti-inflammatory activities
- block the processing of a particular protein known to help “fuel” Alzheimer’s disease
- prevent age-related cognitive decline by keeping nerve cells intact
- help clear plaque in the carotid artery, thus reducing the risk of stroke (stroke often occurs when plaque deposits travel upstream and cut off the blood supply to part of the brain)
- help protect brain cells against the aftereffects of a stroke by clearing toxins from nerve cells. This prevents cells from dying after a stroke.
Studies of elderly populations revealed that those with higher levels of total tocotrienols had a lower risk of developing cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. Tocotrienols, at the very least, are therefore a viable insurance policy for maintaining healthy brain function as we age.
Reverse Skin Damage
Given that the skin is the largest organ of the body and acts as the first line of defense against sickness, keeping it healthy is of utmost importance. Fortunately, research shows a clear connection between tocotrienol supplementation and skin health.
- suppress skin cancer
- reduce the signs of aging by countering oxidative stress caused by sun damage
- reduce skin cell damage by protecting the cell membrane
- help wounds heal quicker by reducing inflammation and boosting immune response
- reduce hyperpigmentation
- protect skin from UV exposure.
Provide Radiation Protection
For those exposed to radiation, for example patients undergoing oncologic radiotherapy, it is a serious and dangerous ordeal. Luckily, tocotrienols help protect sensitive cells from destructive ionizing radiation.*
The Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute (AFRRI), in an effort to find substances to fight potentially lethal injuries incurred by accidental radiation exposure, scanned a variety of promising countermeasure agents. Delta- and gamma-tocotrienol were among the most effective radiation countermeasures tested, which may in part be due to their potent antioxidant properties.
AFRRI has roughly twenty published studies on tocotrienols and radiation protection, including GI tract protection, and remobilization of blood cells. It is remarkable to see that delta- and gamma-tocotrienols are able to salvage healthy cells from severe ionizing radiation.*
*ionizing radiation means destructive radiation that induces massive reactive oxygen species, a tsunami of inflammation, and often certain death. This is so destructive it is usually irreversible