WHAT ARE TOCOTRIENOLS?
Tocotrienols are substances that belong to the vitamin E family which includes eight molecules chemically distinct: alpha- (α-), beta- (β-), gamma- (γ-) and delta- (δ-) tocopherol, and alpha- (α-), beta- (β-), gama- (γ-) and delta- (δ-) tocotrienol. Recent studies show that there are differences between the tocopherols’ and tocotrienols’ biological actions.
Tocotrienols have been associated with powerful anti-cancer, antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering and neuroprotective properties that are generally not exhibited by tocopherols.
Despite being valued mainly as the raw material for the natural color extensively used by the food industries and one of the main condiments of Brazilian cuisine, the annatto (Bixa orellana L.) has long been used as home remedy in the treatment of a large number of illnesses.
These pharmacological activities from different parts of this plant are abundantly documented in the scientific literature.
Annatto is cited as: analgesic, antacid, anti-inflammatory, antifebrile, antiparasitic (malaria, leishmaniasis), healing, antibacterial, antiallergic, in the action against stomatological infections, in the treatment of heart diseases and diabetes, aphrodisiacs, antimicrobial, anticoagulant, in the treatment of cancer, antioxidant, among others.
Vitamins are vital substances that our body cannot synthesize, therefore they should be supplied by foods. These nutrients are divided into two groups according to their solubility: water-soluble and fat-soluble (oil soluble) vitamins. This latter group includes a set of substances known as Vitamin E.
Tocotrienols were considered essential nutrients for humans in 1968. Due to this delay in acknowledging the properties of tocotrienols, researches on this group of vitamins focused instead on tocopherols, mainly alpha-tocopherol. This has caused a delay in the knowledge of tocotrienols’ activities.
New studies are expected with positive results and with new benefits presented by tocotrienols. Comprovations of benefits associated with tocotrienols are turning them into a celebrity in the health field.
TOCOTRIENOLS AND TOCOPHEROLS
Tocopherols have a longer saturated tail (phytyl), which make them stationary and consequently protect only a limited surface area of the cell membrane. Unlike tocopherols, the tocotrienol molecule has a shorter tail, with unsaturated side chains (farnesyl).
This chemical structure allows tocotrienols to move through the body 50 times faster than tocopherols and penetrate into the tissues more effectively, promoting a big difference in various functional effects of the body, such as a much higher antioxidant activity. In addition, studies have shown that tocopherol interferes with the benefits of tocotrienol. The cholesterol-lowering action of tocotrienols was compromised by the presence of alpha-tocopherol and it was concluded that effective tocotrienol preparations should contain less than 15-20% of alpha-tocopherol and more than 60% of gamma and delta-tocotrienol (QURESHI et al., 1996).
Delta-tocotrienol is considered the form with the highest antioxidant power among all compounds with vitamin E activity (MULLER et al., 2010).
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITIES AND PHYTOCHEMICAL COMPOSITION OF ANNATTO
In 2016, researchers reviewed the biological activities and the phytochemical composition of annatto. In this review, the authors sought to correlate the pharmacological activities with the presence of some substances that could explain these effects. According to the authors, most of the articles evaluated in the review confirmed that annatto presents a wide range of biological activities, which merit being explored for the purpose of introducing this plant in pharmaceutical products (SHAHID-UL-ISLAM et al., 2016).
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Among these substances with biological activities, some should be highlighted due to their great importance for human health. Among these substances are Tocotrienols. The presence of tocotrienols in annatto grains explains great part of the pharmacological properties traditionally attributed to these seeds.
PHARMACOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF TOCOTRIENOLS
Tocotrienols have an enormous potential for diverse preventive and therapeutic applications which in many cases cannot be attributed to tocopherols. Clinical trials in human beings have demonstrated their several beneficial health effects and that consequently expands to new areas that unveil how these substances operate in new ways.
Among these important activities, the following ones stand out:
Cancer prevention and treatment;
NATURALMAX: ANNATTO TOCOTRIENOL
New Max Industrial is launching into the market the NaturalMax Annatto Tocotrienol™, extracted from annatto seeds, the only source that provides 100% tocotrienols, in the forms with higher antioxidant power (gamma and delta tocotrienols) and essentially free of tocopherols.
New Max Industrial is the first company to launch this product into the Brazilian market. The NaturalMax Annatto Tocotrienol™ is extracted from the seeds and fractionated without using organic solvents.
The NaturalMax Annatto Tocotrienol™ is available in a concentration higher than 50%, containing its isoform with higher antioxidant activity (delta-tocotrienol) in the approximate proportion of 90%.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace the advice or attention of health care professionals.