Tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E, may help maintain the health of the nervous system, explaining the inconsistent results of previous Parkinson's studies and drawing attention to this least studied form of the vitamin.
There are eight forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta). Alpha-tocopherol is the form found in most supplements, while gamma-tocopherol is the most common form in the American diet, and dl-alpha tocopherol is the synthetic form found in cheap supplements. It has also been found that high-dose alpha-tocopherol (usually from older-science based supplements) inhibits the uptake of gamma and delta tocopherols and possibly tocotrienols.
While the majority of research on vitamin E has focused on alpha-tocopherols, studies into tocotrienols account for less than one per cent of all research into vitamin E.
Emerging research on tocotrienols has found that tocotrienols help protect the cardiovascular system against damage and provide just as many overall health benefits as tocopherols.
A new study has found that tocotrienols may also help maintain the health of your nervous system.
In the study, researchers took pig brain cells and exposed them to two different known triggers of nerve damage: homocysteic acid (HCA) and linoleic acid (LA). They then treated the cells exposed to HCA and LA with different dosages of both alpha-tocotrienol and alpha-tocopherol. The dosages of tocotrienol and tocopherol ranged from 0.12 mg to 5 mg.
The researchers found that alpha-tocotrienol, but not alpha-tocopherol, “completely inhibited” HCA toxicity, thereby “demonstrating increased neuroprotective ability” of alpha-tocotrienol compared to alpha-tocopherol. When looking at LA toxicity, they found that both alpha-tocotrienol and alpha-tocopherol also “completely inhibited” nerve cell death by LA. This inhibition, however, only happened in the larger doses (greater than .5 mg).
The researchers concluded, “it is prudent to conclude that orally supplemented alpha-tocotrienol may protect neurons from toxic insults.”
Khosla R. Postprandial Levels of the Natural Vitamin E Tocotrienol in Human Circulation. Antiox Redox Sig 2006; 8(5-6), f1-f10.