Life Extension Update
Tocotrienol supplementation elevates blood levels sufficiently to help protect against neurologic damage
Studies published in the May, 2006 issue of the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling and online on June 26 in the Journal of Neurochemistry have demonstrated that taking tocotrienols orally is an effective way to elevate blood plasma levels to concentrations that could help protect against neurologic damage resulting from stroke.
Tocotrienols, four of eight naturally occurring forms of vitamin E (the other four being the better-studied tocopherols), have been found to have neuroprotective benefits, but are not abundant in the diet. It has been hypothesized that orally consumed tocotrienols may not be delivered to the organs due to inefficient transport of the vitamin by tocopherol transfer protein, which has a greater affinity for tocopherols.
In the first study, Ohio State University professor and vice chair of surgery, Chandan Sen and colleagues gave a group of women a timed-release supplement containing 77 milligrams alpha-tocotrienol, 96 milligrams delta-tocotrienol and 3 milligrams gamma-tocotrienol, along with 62 milligrams alpha-tocopherol and 96 milligrams gamma-tocopherol, and drew blood samples after 2, 4, 6 and 8 hours. Peak plasma alpha-tocotrienol levels were found to be 12 to 30 times higher than those needed to prevent neurodegeneration related to stroke.
In the second study, published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, Dr Sen’s team determined that tocotrienols protect against neurodegeneration by acting as an antioxidant at higher concentrations, and offer nonantioxidant protection at lower levels. By administering the vitamin to rodent neurons, it was discovered that a very low concentration of alpha-tocotrienol protected against cell death caused by homocystic acid, a metabolite of homocysteine which can cause neuronal lesions associated with cardiovascular disease. A higher concentration of the vitamin protected against the free radical damage caused by the fatty acid linoleic acid. Fatty acids accumulate during ischemic stroke and their associated free radical production can cause irreversible brain damage.
“We have determined that when administered orally, tocotrienol can reach concentrations needed to serve these dual protective functions,” Dr Sen commented. “It is a regular dietary ingredient in Asia, so it can safely be a part of a daily diet within prepared foods or as a supplement in the United States. Can it be therapeutically used to prevent stroke? Results from animal studies are encouraging, but it is still too soon to tell for humans. More mechanistic and outcomes studies are warranted.”
Life Extension believes that the best approach to stroke is to take aggressive steps to reduce the risk of stroke. This includes blood testing to monitor critical markers of vascular risk, such as cholesterol levels, C-reactive protein, homocysteine, and others.
The following dietary supplements may help improve endothelial function and cerebral blood flow and reduce the risk of stroke:
The July issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine presented the findings of Harvard researchers that women who practice a healthy lifestyle have less than half the risk of stroke than women who smoke and fail to exercise regularly, eat healthy, and consume alcohol in moderation.
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