Tocotrienols are chemicals in the vitamin E family. Unlike other forms of vitamin E, tocotrienols are less commonly found in nature. Most of the food we eat contains tocopherols instead of tocotrienols, but several types of vegetable oils, like palm oil, contain high amounts of tocotrienols.
Most vitamin E supplements contain tocopherols and not tocotrienols. Studies also suggest that tocotrienol is a more potent form of vitamin E than tocopherol. Research also tells us that tocotrienol has many health benefits.
Research suggests that tocotrienols are powerful antioxidants that can combat inflammation in the body. This anti-inflammatory effect may have several health benefits, including:
- Brain cell protection: Some studies suggest that tocotrienol has neuroprotective effects. Tocotrienol may also play a role in combating Parkinson’s disease.
- Decreased cancer risk: There’s evidence that tocotrienols may reduce cancer risk by preventing damage caused by free radicals. Research suggests that tocotrienols may help fight a variety of cancers, including colon, prostate, lung, stomach, skin, and liver cancers.
- Better heart health: Tocotrienols may prevent heart-damaging inflammation and help reduce cholesterol levels.
- Immune-boosting effects. Animal studies suggest a possible link between tocotrienols and improved immune function.
- Anti-aging benefits: One study from 2007 found that using a moisturizing lotion infused with tocotrienols helped reduce wrinkles and fine lines and significantly increased skin hydration. However, more research is required to confirm the link between tocotrienols and anti-aging.
- Hair loss prevention: One small 2010 study suggests that tocotrienol supplementation may help with certain kinds of hair loss.
Overall, the research into tocotrienols is promising, but more research is needed to fully understand the potential health benefits of this form of vitamin E.
Possible Side Effects
Researchers haven’t found any notable side effects related to using tocotrienols. That said, it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid taking too much. Talk to your doctor if you’re considering supplementing with tocotrienols.
There’s little research on topical application of tocotrienols, but what researchers know so far suggests it’s safe to apply tocotrienol-infused products to the skin. However, like with any skincare product, there’s a potential for skin irritation.
At normal doses, there’s no evidence that tocotrienols interact with any drugs. However, you should still talk to your doctor before trying out this supplement. High amounts of tocotrienols may interfere with medications like warfarin, aspirin, cyclosporine, and tamoxifen.
Dosage and Preparation
The recommended average daily intake of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams (mg) per day. Taking higher amounts in supplement form may cause adverse effects. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), too much vitamin E can increase your internal bleeding risk. The NIH cautions against taking more than 1,000mg per day.
For most people, eating vitamin E via foodstuffs shouldn’t cause any problems. If you take a supplement and get plenty of vitamin E in your diet, you may be taking too much, even if you’re taking the recommended dose on the supplement bottle.
What to Look For
You can get tocotrienols through your diet. However, they’re in fewer widely available foods than tocopherols. You can also take tocotrienol in supplement form. However, tocotrienol vitamin E may be harder to find than tocopherol and mixed tocopherol supplements.
When you’re shopping for a vitamin E supplement or a multivitamin that contains vitamin E, always check the dosage. Avoid products that provide very high doses of vitamin E.
Naturally sourced vitamin E will usually be labeled as d-alpha-tocopherol. Laboratory made vitamin E will show up at dl-alpha-tocopherol. Tocotrienols are less widely available in supplement form than other forms of vitamin E.
When buying supplements, check for independent third-party testing labels like NSF International, ConsumerLab, or Pharmacopeia. Additionally, avoid products with labeling that claims to cure or treat a particular disease.
Why is it hard to find vitamin E with tocotrienols?
Tocotrienols aren’t easy to find in supplement form. It’s possible that cost comes into play. There’s also limited research on tocotrienols compared to other forms of vitamin E.
What are some food sources of tocotrienols?
Like with most vitamins, your best bet is to get them through food sources. Tocotrienols are a bit harder to get through your diet than tocopherols because they’re primarily found in plant oils. Plant oil sources of tocotrienols include:
- Buckthorn berry
- Corn (maize)
- Grapefruit seed
A Word From Verywell
We still don’t have enough information to confirm that tocotrienols are superior to tocopherols. Studies are promising, but that doesn’t mean you should discount other forms of vitamin E. There are plenty of foods high in tocopherols that can help you meet your daily requirement of vitamin E.
Always talk to your doctor before taking supplements like vitamin E. They can advise you on potential interactions with medications you’re taking and let you know the right dose for your needs. They may even recommend not supplementing if you get enough vitamin E through your diet.