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Tocotrienol-Rich Rice Bran Oil A New Natural Cholesterol-Fighter

I've been keeping a close eye on the research front for studies on tocopherols and tocotrienols, the natural compounds that make up vitamin E. The big question: Which one is more important to your health? Tocotrienols, according to new findings, appear to get the nod. A supplement of tocotrienol rich fraction (TRF), a component of vitamin E isolated from rice bran oil, lowered LDL cholesterol levels in tests on animals by an amazing 62 percent and overall cholesterol numbers by 42 percent.

Although TRF also comes from barley, oats and palm, the best form comes from rice bran oil, which is contained in the outer grain hull of rice. Its properties appear to inhibit the activity of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme involved in cholesterol biosynthesis.

Because taking vitamin E seems controversial to some -- if you choose to take it, look for a natural kind consisting of mixed tocopherols including gamma-tocopherol -- researchers sought the minimum effective dosage of TRF that would provide the maximum antioxidants and effectively lower cholesterol.

Based on studies of rats and extrapolating those figures for humans, the effective dose of TRF for a patient weighing 154 pounds is 560 IUs.

This good news certainly supports other studies that have shown the antioxidant effects of tocotrienols to be 40 to 60 times more effective than alpha tocopherol. Tocotrienols have also been shown to reduce the risk of stroke by reversing atherosclerosis.

The difference between tocotrienols and tocopherols: Although both have a similar chemical structure, tocotrienols are more unsaturated, meaning they are more mobile and more reactive, while tocopherols tend to cluster.

Food and Chemical Toxicology, Vol. 43, Issue 5, May 2005: 747-753

EurekAlert May 12, 2005

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