The Unique Antioxidant Properties of Tocotrienols

By: Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist

Nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin E have a long history of proven antioxidant function in the human body. Many other polyphenols, such as resveratrol and grape seed extracts, also have potent antioxidant activity. The value of antioxidant nutrients is not just in their direct antioxidant activity, but also in how they interact with antioxidant systems in the human body as well as protect the body against damage caused by free radicals. In this context, advanced gene studies show that tocotrienols are a highly superior form of vitamin E.

In one study researchers injected hamsters with LPS (to mimic acute infection), zymosan (to mimic acute system inflammation), or turpentine (to create acute localized inflammation). During such exposures that antioxidant enzymes were compromised from the stress, indicating excess tissue damage and compromised health. Feeding the hamsters 10 mg of tocotrienols reversed and normalized the function of antioxidant enzymes systems in the liver and kidneys. Advanced molecular analysis showed that tocotrienols were directly interacting with the antioxidant enzyme systems to bolster their ability to combat the stress of the various exposures, thus offering significant health protection.

In another study immune cells from young adults (aged 35-49) and from older adults (age over 50) were exposed to hydrogen peroxide to induce free radical cell damage. The researchers then used advanced genomic analysis to determine which proteins had changed in response to the stress. Then they exposed the cells to tocotrienols and measured which proteins now changed. In addition to improvement in antioxidant gene signaling the researchers also discovered that tocotrienols activated gene signaling within the cells to make them more resistant to stress. Not only were antioxidants enzymes working better but the cells themselves had improved fitness to withstand the trauma, including in the immune cells of older adults.

These types of advanced studies show the power of tocotrienols to influence multiple gene signaling involved with natural defense. This is in addition to the direct antioxidant capacity of tocotrienols, which is also superior to plain vitamin E as demonstrated in multiple other studies. Because a general decline in antioxidant enzyme function as well as a cell’s ability to defend itself are common features of aging, it can be concluded that tocotrienols are a superior anti-aging nutrient.

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