Vitamin E tocotrienols show cholesterol benefits for healthy adults: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Vitamin E tocotrienols show cholesterol benefits for healthy adults: Study

Related tags Antioxidant

Vitamin E tocotrienol-rich supplements may improve blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially in people over 50, says a new study from Malaysia.

Daily supplements of a palm oil-based tocotrienol-rich product increased the ratio of HDL cholesterol to total cholesterol – reported to be the most specific lipid risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD) – by 14 percent in people over 50, compared to a decrease of about 5 percent in the placebo group.

The vitamin E-rich supplements were also associated with increased activity in a number of antioxidant enzymes, compared to decreases in the placebo group.

“Our results indicate that daily supplementation for up to 6 months with [tocotrienol-rich palm oil fraction] raised plasma HDL cholesterol levels as early as 3 months, thereby increasing the HDLcholesterol/total cholesterol ratio,”​ report researchers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

“[Vitamin E tocotrienols] might thus help to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) in healthy older adults.

“In fact, HDL cholesterol increases of the magnitude observed in this study have been associated with a 22.5 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular events,” ​they added.

The vitamin E family

Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that have traditionally been in the shadow of the more popular vitamin E form – tocopherols.

Overall, there are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol (alpha-Toc) is the main source found in supplements and in the European diet, while gamma-tocopherol (gamma-Toc) is the most common form in the American diet.

Tocotrienols (TCT) are only minor components in plants, although several sources with relatively high levels include palm oil, cereal grains and rice bran.

The new study used the commercial ingredient Tri E Tocotrienol by Malaysian company Sime Darby Bioganic Sdn. Bhd. The vitamin E in the ingredient was 74 percent tocotrienols and 26 percent tocopherol. The main form of tocotrienol was alpha, followed by gamma and delta.

The Malaysian researchers recruited 62 subjects and randomly assigned them to receive either placebo or 160 mg of day of the tocotrienol-rich ingredient for six months.

At the end of the study period, results showed that only the participants over the age of 50 experienced increases in vitamin E levels after 6 months of supplementation. However, both age groups (35-49, and over 50s) displayed an improvement in the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol in both age groups after supplementation, compared to placebo.

The researchers also reported an increase in the activity of various antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione peroxidise in participants receiving the vitamin E supplementation.

Protective effects

“Our data revealed an age-related increase in oxidative damage,” ​report researchers from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. “We established a role of nutritional supplementation in oxidative damage and antioxidant levels in older individuals.

“The protective effects of tocotrienol-rich fraction supplementation observed in this study might represent a restoration of redox balance, particularly in the over 50-year old group,”​ they added.

Source: Nutrition & Metabolism
2011, 8​:42
“Tocotrienol Rich Fraction Supplementation Improved Lipid Profile and Oxidative Status in Healthy Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Study”
Authors: S.F. Chin, J. Ibahim, S. Makpol, N.A. Abdul Hamid, A. Abdul Latiff, Z. Zakaria, M. Mazlan, Y.A. Mohd Yusof et al.

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