Brain Protection & Anti-Aging with Tocotrienols

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
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A variety of studies from all around the globe are showing that tocotrienols offer dramatic protection for the health of the brain, both during neuro-development and aging.

An animal study has shown that a mother taking tocotrienols during pregnancy and lactation, along with adding tocotrienols to animal feed following lactation resulted in higher blood levels of tocotrienols with significant accumulation of tocotrienols in the structures of the brain (4-6 times the level compared to controls). The animals with the high tocotrienols had significantly better performance on cognitive tests.

A common stressor to the brain is excess alcohol consumption, which is especially problematic in a pregnant or lactating mother and results in significant neuro-inflammation and cognitive impairment in the offspring. This animal study tested alcohol exposure after birth, with and without tocotrienols. The alcohol only group had many aspects of inflammation including the core inflammatory signal NF-kappaB, resulting in increased levels of dead brain cells and poor cognitive function. Tocotrienols were able to protect the animal’s brains from alcohol-induced damage, maintaining normal cognitive function. The researchers pointed out the “potential of tocotrienol in the prevention of cognitive deficits in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.” 

Another study using rice bran extracts high in tocotrienols found that the brain mitochondria in aging animals were able to maintain their ability to make energy and not experience the decline that is typical of the aging brain. The researchers concluded that the tocotrienol extract “represents a potential nutraceutical for the prevention of mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases.”

A stroke shuts off oxygen supply to an area of the brain, quickly depletes the core antioxidant defense system within brain cells (glutathione depletion), at which point brain injury follows. In an experimental animal model of induced stroke, tocotrienols were shown to beneficially alter gene signaling to tolerate this type of stress, markedly reducing the injury from the stroke.

Hydrogen peroxide is a normal reactive oxygen species (ROS) that your cells must metabolize as they make energy in mitochondria (including brain cells). During aging or poor health hydrogen peroxide levels rise, energy levels go down, and free radical damage occurs – resulting in inflammation and brain aging. A neuron cell study showed that tocotrienols prevented nerve damage from excess hydrogen peroxide exposure, thereby preserving important nerve structures.

These five studies add to the already existing body of science regarding tocotrienols and nerve protection. They illustrate a high level of protection in early life as well as old age. Regular consumption increases the brain concentration of them, giving you a novel form of cognitive protection to help buffer the wear and tear of living.

Since the health of your brain is the bottom-line key to your quality of life, using a variety of brain support nutrients to bolster both function and protection is a really good idea. The brain-enhancing science behind tocotrienols makes them an excellent choice as part of your cognitive support nutrient program.

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