By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
You know that vitamin C helps boost your immune system, and vitamin A supports your vision. What if there were a naturally occurring letter vitamin that supports your brain health? Further, what if the federal government was pouring millions of dollars into researching the benefits of this vitamin? The good news is that it’s already readily available. It’s a form of natural vitamin E called tocotrienols.
You may not have heard of tocotrienols. Most of the time the media, textbooks and even physicians just say, “vitamin E”. But in reality, nature produces two forms of vitamin E: tocopherols (the form typically found in most multivitamins and stand-alone vitamin E supplements), and tocotrienols (the up-and-coming more potent form of vitamin E with unique health benefits). Tocopherols and tocotrienols are found together in nature.
- Tocopherols are excellent antioxidants. They can be sourced naturally but many supplements contain the more inexpensive, synthetic version.
- Tocotrienols have a broader range of benefits, from sports nutrition to cardiovascular health. They are typically sourced naturally and sustainably from red palm oil.
Here’s another one reason why it’s important to differentiate between tocopherols and tocotrienols. Every few years, it seems there’s a new study showing that high doses of vitamin E increase risk of mortality. Media coverage of those studies rarely reports that they were done using just the tocopherols form. Not tocotrienols.
Nature knows best
When it comes to supplementation, always take what nature produces. A complete vitamin E supplement is one that contains both tocopherols and tocotrienols (i.e. full-spectrum vitamin E). To further ensure you’re getting the most efficacy, always choose vitamins made from natural sources. Tocotrienols sourced from Malaysian palm oil support a certified sustainable, eco-friendly industry and family farmers.
There are numerous benefits to adding tocotrienols to your diet. Scientists have been conducting tocotrienol research for the last 30 years. Studies have shown their value for skin, liver and cardiovascular function, among many others. But if you were to ask me which health condition has the most compelling scientific evidence, I would say neuroprotection.
The damaging effects of stroke on individuals, our healthcare system and the economy cost us tens of billions of dollars. We need to find a solution. Just as lycopene is associated with prostate health, and lutein for eye health, dozens of meticulous studies done over the last 35 years provide direct evidence that tocotrienols help protect your brain. When one thinks of brain health, think tocotrienols.
For less than 60 cents a day, far less than a cup of coffee, you could follow a three-pronged approach to neuroprotection.
- Protect your brain from stroke damage. The National Institutes of Health has been funding this tocotrienol research, conducted at Ohio State University, for the last 20 years. Professor Chandan Sen has looked at injuries due to stroke, and shown that having a small amount of tocotrienols in your neurons confers some protection against stroke injuries. It helps the brain defend itself from stroke damage and may also improve your recovery from stroke.
- Protect your ability to learn. The health of your brain’s white matter affects how well it learns and functions. This is also the area of the brain most often affected by stroke. Many independent studies have shown that having white matter lesions, or abnormal regions in the brain, significantly increase your risk of stroke. A very thorough study, published in the American Heart Association’s journal “Stroke,” demonstrated that tocotrienols may support white matter health by attenuating the progression of white matter lesions.
- Protect your mental acuity. A comprehensive epidemiological study, funded by the EU, evaluated metabolic markers in blood plasma correlating with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers determined that high levels of tocotrienols and tocopherols in blood plasma are associated with a lower risk of MCI and lower rate of Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists are constantly researching and learning more about the health benefits of natural tocotrienols. You can explore more about what what is known so far about tocotrienols by visiting www.tocotrienol.org.
Biography: Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, (aka “The Nutrition Myth Buster”) is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health, and the best-selling author of 15 books on health. Dr. Jonny — a former professional pianist and conductor — earned six certifications in personal training and fitness, has a Master’s degree in psychology, a PhD in holistic nutrition and is board certified by the American College of Nutrition. He has written, contributed to or consulted on hundreds of articles in publications as diverse as the New York Times, People, Us, O the Oprah Magazine, In Style, Vanity Fair Online, People, GQ, Forbes Online, Clean Eating, the Huffington Post and countless others.