Vitamin E May Offer Serious Protection Against Diseases

Tocotrienols are a type of Vitamin E which are believed to have beneficial properties that may include protection against heart and nerve diseases, cancer and diabetes, according to a review in the journal Genes and Nutrition. Found in palm oil, edible oils and rice bran, they reduce blood cholesterol levels, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease. They also appear to have antioxidant properties.

Vitamins are essential components of the human diet. Since many vitamins are not synthesized by the body, they must be obtained from food. A type of vitamin E, tocotrienols, have gained attention in recent years because they possess specific antioxidant properties. Oxidative damage is a factor in many diseases. Tocotrienols are said to be especially useful in people who are prone to heart disease, since they provide cardio-protection. This paper reviewed studies that explored the beneficial effects of tocotrienols on various aspects of prevention of diseases associated with oxidative damage.

Key findings
* Tocotrienols lower blood cholesterol and thus reduce the risk of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis results from the formation of cholesterol plaques in the inner walls of blood vessels, leading to their blockage, heart attacks and heart disease. Tocotrienols reduce levels of fats in blood plasma.
* Tocotrienols reduce oxidative damage and they counter the tendency of platelets to clump together when they shouldn’t.
* Alpha and gamma tocotrienols have specific structures that are responsible for their beneficial activities.

Next steps/shortcomings
The authors agree that there are no studies that test the heart-protective effects of tocotrienols on humans. They suggest further clinical trials to prove the protective effects of these compounds. The results from these studies would help establish the actual benefits of tocotrienols in humans.

This article reviewed the multiple roles of tocotrienols – a class of vitamin E compounds – on human health. Of the four types of tocotrienols, the “alpha” and “gama” subtypes, are effective in protecting the cardiovascular system. The authors predict that further studies and clinical trials on humans to test the effects of these compounds in protecting the human heart and blood vessels from disease would be beneficial.

For More Information:
Multifaceted Role of Tocotrienols in Cardioprotection Supports their Structure: Function Relation
Publication Journal: Genes Nutrition, May 2011
By Hannah R Vasanthi; R P Parameswari, et al., Pondicherry University, Puducherry, India and Sri Ramachandra University, Chennai, India

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