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Want to prevent cancer? Think tocotrienols, the best vitamin E you've never heard of

Vitamin E has received a fair amount of bad press lately.

Before throwing the concept of vitamin E into the garbage, let’s explore some new aspects of it. There are eight forms of vitamin E with different structures. They are alpha, beta, gamma, delta tocopherols and tocotrienols. More than 30,000 research papers have been published about tocopherols, less than 600 have been published on the tocotrienols. However, they are very much worth looking at.Marzell

One of the most impressive functions of the tocotrienols is protection against cancers. They have been shown to decrease proliferation of cancers, as well as inducing the cancer cells to kill themselves (apoptosis). The tocopherols impede the ability of the cancer cells to have their own blood source, thus starving them. The mechanisms these molecules use to accomplish the cancer-squelching effects are many, but this is my favorite: “the induction of death receptor-5.” Sounds like something out of Star Wars! Tocotrienols are powerful. Cancers that have shown suppressive effects from therapy with tocotrienols are breast, colon, stomach, liver, skin, lung, prostate and pancreas. The gamma and delta factions are the strongest in this regard, and they are found in rice, palm and are particularly high in annatto oil.

Other notable activities in maintaining health from the tocotrienols are protection against heart disease. They have very strong anti-inflammatory activity, which is a major force in plaque development. They have also been shown to decrease lipid peroxidation, decrease thickening of arteries and preserve the elasticity of arteries. Some studies have shown that animals on tocotrienols had smaller heart attacks than untreated animals. In addition, they decrease total cholesterol, LDL and increase HDL (good cholesterol).

In addition, tocotrienols have been shown to help reverse nerve pain and damage from diabetes and alcohol. Studies have documented protection in areas of the brain after a stroke.

Why haven’t we heard more about this very exciting vitamin? Some of the functions of tocotrienols were thought to be a function of the tocopherols. Research is proving that we are looking at the wrong vitamin E molecules. Let’s not throw out the benefits of vitamin E by the disappointing data on the tocopherols. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us, if we look hard enough. If you are not an avid palm oil or annatto oil aficionado, don’t worry. Supplements are now available for us to reap these wonderful, protective benefits.

Dr. Laurie Marzell is a naturopathic physician and certified menopause practitioner with the North American Menopause Society. She specializes in hormone replacement in men and women. Her office is in Lake Grove on Boones Ferry Road.



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