In nature, biomolecules exist in a complex in vivo environment; the more research we do, the more we understand that no single compound can exist and/or exert its biological effects in isolation
In nature, biomolecules exist in a complex in vivo environment. The more research we do, the more we understand that no single compound can exist and/or exert its biological effects in isolation. Even traditionally named compounds that were grouped together in the earlier days of science have proved to be far more complex and heterogenous than previously thought. A classic example of this is the large and disparate group of molecules that is collectively known as vitamin E.
The vitamin E family comprises eight different compounds (isomers): four tocopherols and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta). Alpha-tocopherol was the focus of early research and is the most common form of vitamin E. Tocotrienols differ from tocopherols by having an unsaturated side tail that results in significantly different biological activities.
Most plants, fruits and vegetables contain a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Single isomers of vitamin E rarely ever occur in isolation and are often a ‘product of convenience’ of the chemical manufacturing process. Whereas tocopherols occur naturally in common vegetable oils, tocotrienols are concentrated in cereal grains (oat, barley, rice bran) and virgin crude palm oil, nature’s richest source.
EVNol SupraBio (formerly known as Tocomin SupraBio)
A potential impediment to the widespread use of tocotrienols or any other fat-soluble nutrient as a dietary supplement lies in poor and unpredictable oral absorption. EVNol SupraBio ensures an increase in oral tocotrienol absorption (approximately 300%) via a patented bioenhanced self-emulsifying system. It is an advanced formulation of Tocomin, a natural tocotrienol complex that is concentrated from virgin crude palm oil using a patented mild extraction process that ensures the maximum preservation of phytonutrients.
Predominantly, it contains full spectrum tocotrienols as well as other phytonutrients, such as tocopherols, plant squalene, phytosterols, coenzyme Q10 and mixed carotenoids that are naturally extracted together with tocotrienols. EVNol SupraBio, leveraging a patented bioenhanced delivery system, is the most bioavailable tocotrienol complex available on the market.
Tocopherol fails in cardioprotection
Recently, several large-scale clinical trials (GISSI Prevention Trial, HOPE and HOPE-TOO Trial, Women’s Health Study, Physician’s Health Study II) reported that vitamin E did not protect against cardiovascular diseases. On closer examination, all the studies used alpha-tocopherol alone and, in some cases, the synthetic form of alpha-tocopherol.
Synthetic vitamin E is chemically produced from petroleum byproducts. The synthetic form is a mixture of eight stereoisomers that are referred to as all-rac-alpha-tocopherol (d,l-alpha-tocopherol). Only one of these stereoisomers is bioidentical to natural alpha tocopherol (RRR-alpha-tocopherol or d-alpha-tocopherol). Natural alpha-tocopherol has better bioavailability compared with the synthetic form.
Taking an identical dosage, the concentration of natural alpha-tocopherol in blood and organs is almost double that of the synthetic form. Even natural alpha-tocopherol may not be as 'natural' as one would have thought, as mixed tocopherols are converted to a single alpha-tocopherol by the chemical process of methylation. In addition, taking too much alpha-tocopherol depletes the body of other vitamin E isomers, particularly gamma-tocopherol.
Tocotrienols: the heart healthy vitamin E
It is only in recent years that the unique cardiovascular health benefits of tocotrienols — not shared by tocopherols — were revealed by new studies. Alpha-Tocotrienol was found to be 40–60 times more potent than alpha-tocopherol as an antioxidant.
Tocotrienols have showed promising and unique cardioprotective properties, including lowering blood cholesterol, reversing atherosclerosis, lowering blood pressure and reducing arterial stiffness.
Cholesterol lowering: Cholesterols are vital compounds in all animal cells and are physiologically important for cell membrane function. The modern Western diet, however, exposes us to excessive levels of cholesterols. Coupled with genetic factors, the resultant high blood cholesterol concentration is associated with cardiovascular diseases. Tocotrienols inhibit cholesterol biosynthesis by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, the same enzyme that is inhibited by statins.
Both animal and human studies have demonstrated the cholesterol lowering action of tocotrienols. Patients who received 100–200mg of tocotrienols per day for 4–10 weeks had an 8–25% LDL-cholesterol reduction. Tocotrienol, when taken together with lovastatin (cholesterol-lowering drug), showed greater cholesterol reduction compared with lovastatin alone. By contrast, tocopherols do not possess cholesterol-lowering activity.
Reversing atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is a chronic degenerative disease, mainly involving arteries. Many drugs can retard the disease process but few can claim to objectively reverse atherosclerosis. A double-blind placebo-controlled human study conducted by the Kenneth Jordan Heart Foundation and University of Elmhurst showed that tocotrienols reverse atherosclerosis.
In this study, patients with carotid stenoses (narrowing of the main artery supplying the brain) were supplemented with 240mg/day of palm tocotrienol complex for 6 months. In the tocotrienol-supplemented group, 92% of the patients showed atherosclerotic plaque regression or remain unchanged. By contrast, none of the patients receiving the placebo showed atherosclerotic regression, whilst 40% showed progression of the disease. Tocotrienol is the first natural compound to reverse atherosclerosis in humans. Its role in preventing diseases such as heart attack and stroke deserve more intensive investigation.
Blood pressure lowering: High blood pressure is a complex multifactorial disease that is a major modifiable risk factor of cardiovascular diseases. Although many effective antihypertensive medicines are known, these are not without their side-effects. Gamma-tocotrienol, a natural compound significantly reduced systolic blood pressure in rats. A similar effect was confirmed in a recent human study. Patients supplemented with EVNol SupraBio for 2 months resulted in a significant reduction in aortic systolic blood pressure.
Reducing arterial stiffness: A recent human study looked into the cardiovascular risk factor, arterial stiffness, which is a predictor of cardiovascular events in both diseased and normal subjects. Data from this randomized controlled clinical trial demonstrated that tocotrienol (from EVNol SupraBio) reduces arterial stiffness in healthy adults after 2 months of oral supplementation. As arterial stiffness is an independent risk factor of cardiovascular diseases, it is conceivable that an improvement in arterial compliance may reduce the risk of contracting these diseases.
EVNol SupraBio: most bioavailable tocotrienol complex
Tocotrienols occur at very low concentrations in nature, with the highest levels being found in palm oil. Common vegetable oils such as soy bean, corn and sunflower do not contain tocotrienols. Because of their low level, it is practically impossible to attain biologically active concentrations of tocotrienols from the diet alone.
For example, you’d have to drink a cup of palm oil per day to achieve this. Therefore, dietary supplementation with tocotrienols is necessary to achieve beneficial levels in the body. Do not assume, however, that everything taken orally will be absorbed! This is true for drugs, natural compounds and even the food we eat.
Like all fat-soluble vitamins, tocotrienols are poorly absorbed when taken with an empty stomach or a fat-poor diet. The oral absorption of tocotrienols is low and erratic. It is similar to fat absorption, which requires physiologic processing and is highly dependent on bile secretion and emulsification in the small intestine. The efficiency of tocotrienol absorption also depends on the type and amount of dietary fats present.
A bioenhanced oral delivery system has been developed to overcome the poor absorption of tocotrienols. The patented SupraBio system is a self-emulsifying delivery system that provides more consistent and enhanced oral absorption of tocotrienols. It contains a mixture of oil and surfactants at an optimum ratio that will self-emulsify in the gastrointestinal tract.
The emulsion formed undergoes lipolysis to form particles of colloidal dimensions, mimicking the intraluminal processing that is essential for the optimal absorption of tocotrienols. This novel delivery system results in a rapid and consistent absorption of tocotrienols that is independent of dietary fat or food intake. A clinical study on healthy human volunteers confirmed the efficacy of EVNol SupraBio, which increased the rate and extent of tocotrienol absorption by up to 300%.
For most of the past two decades, 'vitamin E' had been lumped together as a group of compounds. Results from studies using only a few isomers, particularly alpha-tocopherol, had perhaps been rather unfairly generalised to other members of the vitamin E family.
In recent years, a growing number of studies have shown that vitamin E is a complete and heterogenous group of compounds with different isomers, particularly tocotrienols, with very important and unique health promoting properties. Although many large alpha-tocopherol studies had shown disappointing results, research using a natural, full spectrum palm tocotrienol complex (EVNol and EVNol SupraBio) has turned up many important cardioprotective properties, including cholesterol-lowering, antihypertensive and even atherosclerosis reversal.
It is therefore no surprise that natural full spectrum palm tocotrienol complex (EVNol SupraBio) is one of the most intensively investigated compounds within the vitamin E family, which could well reveal even further health benefits.