Tocotrienols: The New Vitamin E for Cellular Health

As part of new CytoActives, formerly Ageless Actives™, Isagenix has now added tocotrienols. So what are tocotrienols and why is the Isagenix Research and Science team so enthusiastic to incorporate them into a product designed to support cellular health? For that answer, we need to have a brief education on vitamin E.

When vitamin E was first isolated from green leafy vegetables in 1922 (1), it became apparent that the nutrient was actually a family of structurally related molecules consisting of alpha (a), beta (b), gamma (g), and delta (d)-tocopherols. Alpha-tocopherol was the most studied and abundant form in the body. Subsequently, vitamin E’s primary (though perhaps not only) physiological function as the major fat-soluble antioxidant in cellular membranes is now well established.

However, regarding the tocotrienols, it would take scientists almost 45 more years before these members of the vitamin E family were isolated and characterized from a rubber plant (2). Why did it take so long? Primarily because unlike tocopherols which are present in most vegetable oils and plant leaves, tocotrienols are present in only a relatively small number of plants and predominantly in their seeds.

Although the average diet provides only 1-4 mg tocotrienols per day (3-4), rich sources include barley, rice, and palm oils. And because of the significantly greater abundance and exciting health potential of the antioxidant protection offered by tocopherols very little research focused on tocotrienols over the next decades.

The Vitamin E of the 21st Century

However, this delay in scientific interest into the tocotrienols would soon change when researchers discovered a component of barley contained a strong effect on lipid molecule biosynthesis in cells and in animals (5, 6). This factor was revealed to be a tocotrienol. Thus, the focus on tocotrienols would address their effects for cardiovascular health and cellular protection.

A second renaissance of tocotrienol research extending from 2000 to the current day has led several experts to coin the phrase “The Vitamin E of the 21st Century” for tocotrienols. This renewal of research interest began when Chandan Sen, a professor of surgery at Ohio State University documented the remarkable potency of tocotrienols for protecting the nervous system and brain (7-9).

Indeed, Dr. Sen’s studies demonstrated that the neuroprotection offered by tocotrienols was the most potent of any biological function of any vitamin E.  (Combine tocotrienol-rich CytoActives with Brain Boost and Renewal for maximum brain health protection).

In addition to this neuroprotection, it’s also well known that tocotrienols are potent antioxidants. Moreover, research in both in vitro and clinical studies suggest superior antioxidant protection compared to tocopherols (10,11).

The most recent studies have further documented tocotrienol’s benefits to heart health. For example, there’s clinical support for improved arterial function with even low-dose tocotrienol supplementation (12).

Finally, recent studies have also reported tocotrienol supplementation can support liver health by accumulating in human liver (13) resulting in liver protection (14).

Potent Combination for Greater Cellular Protection

With the impressive list of health benefits offered by tocotrienols, it only made sense for Isagenix to find an avenue to incorporate these unique forms of vitamin E into our products. In fact, new CytoActives takes full advantage of the most researched and bioavailable, full-spectrum tocotrienol complex available isolated from Malaysian palm oil, a sustainable source of the nutrient under the conservation and forest-protecting certification standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Isagenix has “followed the science” and formulated a most potent cellular, heart, and brain protective supplement available. For optimum health and wellness, take CytoActives as part of the Complete Essentials™ Daily Pack.


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  2. Whittle DJ, Dunphy PJ and Pennock JF. The isolation and properties of delta-tocotrienol from Hevea latex. Biochem J 100:138-45, 1966.
  3. Heinonen M and Piironen V. The tocopherol, tocotrienol, and vitamin E content of the average Finnish diet. Int J Vitam Nutr Res 61:27-32, 1991.
  4. Sookwong P, Nakagawa K, Yamaguchi Y et al. Tocotrienol distribution in foods: estimation of daily tocotrienol intake of Japanese population. J Agr Food Chem 58:3350-5, 2010.
  5. Qureshi AA, Burger WC, Peterson DM et al. The structure of an inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis isolated from barley. J Biol Chem 261:10544-50, 1986.
  6. Parker RA, Pearce BC, Clark RW et al. Tocotrienols regulate cholesterol production in mammalian cells by post-transcriptional suppression of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-coenzyme A reductase. J Biol Chem 268:11230-8, 1993.
  7. Sen CK, Khanna S, Roy S et al. Molecular basis of vitamin E action. Tocotrienol potently inhibits glutamate-induced pp60(c-Src) kinase activation and death of HT4 neuronal cells. J Biol Chem 275:13049-55, 2000.
  8. Khanna S, Roy S, Slivka A et al. Neuroprotective properties of the natural vitamin E alpha-tocotrienol. Stroke 36:2258-64, 2005.
  9. Sen CK, Khanna S, Roy S. Tocotrienols: Vitamin E beyond tocopherols. Life Science 78:2088-98, 2006.
  10. Packer L, Weber SU, Rimbach G. Molecular aspects of alpha-tocotrienol antioxidant action and cell signalling. J Nutr 131:369S-73S, 2001.
  11. Chin SF, Ibahim J, Makpol S et al. Tocotrienol rich fraction supplementation improved lipid profile and oxidative status in healthy older adults: A randomized controlled study. Nutr Metab (Lond) 8:42.
  12. Rasooh AH, Rahman AR, Yuen KH et al. Arterial compliance and vitamin E blood levels with a self emulsifying preparation of tocotrienol rich vitamin E. Arch Pharm Res 31:1212-7, 2008.
  13. Patel V, Rink C, Gordillo GM et al. Oral tocotrienols are transported to human tissues and delay the progression of the model for end-stage liver disease score in patients. J Nutr 142:513-9, 2012.

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