Tocotrienols supplement health benefit and side effects, daily dosage by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
June 22 2017


Vitamin E occurs naturally in eight different forms – 4 forms of tocopherol and 4 forms of tocotrienol. While tocopherols are generally present in common vegetable oils (i.e. soy, canola, wheat germ, sunflower), tocotrienols, on the other hand, are concentrated in cereal grains (i.e. oat, barley, and rye, rice bran), with the richest source found in virgin crude palm oil, a vegetable oil that is increasingly used in prepared foods due to its trans-fat free property.

Supplementation for medical reasons
Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2012. Gamma-tocotrienol modulation of senescence-associated gene expression prevents cellular aging in human diploid fibroblasts.

Breast cancer
Cell Prolif. 2013. Tocotrienols promote apoptosis in human breast cancer cells by inducing poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage and inhibiting nuclear factor kappa-B activity.

Colon cancer
Molecules. 2015. γ-Tocotrienol and 6-Gingerol in Combination Synergistically Induce Cytotoxicity and Apoptosis in HT-29 and SW837 Human Colorectal Cancer Cells.

Benefit for hair growth
Researchers at the School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Science Malaysia gave twenty-one volunteers 100 mg daily of a mixed tocotrienol supplement and 17 volunteers were administered placebo capsules daily. The tocotrienol group had a 34 percent increase in number of hairs while the placebo group had a decrease of 0.1 percent in number of hairs. The authors stated “In conclusion, this trial demonstrated that supplementation with tocotrienol capsules increases hair number in volunteers suffering from hair loss as compared to the placebo group. This observed effect was most likely to be due to the antioxidant activity that helped to reduce lipid peroxidation and oxidative stress in the scalp, which are reported to be associated with alopecia.” Effects of Tocotrienol Supplementation on Hair Growth in Human Volunteers. Tropical Life Sciences Research. Dec 2010.


Tocotrienols are vitamin E compounds that have an unsaturated side chain with three double bonds, selectively inhibit the activity of mammalian DNA polymerase lambda (pol lambda) in vitro. Polymerases are involved in cellular DNA synthesis during cell replication.

Tocotrienols inhibit the proliferation of and formation of tubes by bovine aortic endothelial cells, with delta-tocotrienol having the greatest effect.

Tocotrienols may act as potent anti-cancer agents by inhibiting pol lambda and angiogenesis. Tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta-tocopherol) do not influence the activities of mammalian polymerase and angiogenesis as much, suggesting that the three double bonds in the unsaturated side chain of tocotrienols play an important factor in the inhibition of polymerase lambda.


Tocotrienols in Hazelnuts
Hazelnuts from 19 cultivars collected during 3 consecutive-year crops, in 2 different geographical localities, for a total of 79 samples, were evaluated for their contents in tocopherols and tocotrienols. Seven compounds were identified and quantified. All samples presented alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta- tocopherols and beta-tocotrienol; alpha- and gamma-tocotrienols were detected in some of the studied samples. alpha-Tocopherol was the major compound in all samples, ranging from 105 to 226 mg/kg of hazelnut. Statistical analyses were carried out in order to check for differences among cultivars, year crops, and geographical localities. Although some differences were observed when different-year crops and geographical localities were considered, neither of these factors seemed to produce considerable differences in terms of tocopherol and tocotrienol contents. For more nut information.

Tocomin  / Tocomin  SupraBio (TM) Supplementation Elevates Blood Levels
Two NIH-funded studies conducted at the Ohio State University Medical Center, published in the May, 2006 issue of the journal Antioxidant & Redox Signaling and June 26th issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry, demonstrate that taking tocotrienols (Tocomin and Tocomin SupraBioTM) orally is an effective way to elevate blood plasma levels to concentrations that could help protect against neurological damage resulting from stroke.


Palm tocotrienols
Published in the 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Japanese researchers from the Tohoku University and Nippon Medical School, Tokyo showed that natural full spectrum palm tocotrienol complex (in the form of Tocomin 50%, supplied by Carotech Ltd) suppressed in vivo angiogenesis in bovine aortic endothelial cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells. The researchers investigated tocotrienol’s antiangiogenic properties using two well-characterized angiogenic mouse models—the mouse dorsal air sac assay and the chick embryo chorioallantoic membrane assay.
   Comments: Human trials are necessary with Tocomin tocotrienols to determine what effect these palm tocotrienols will have in the human body.


Q. Does tribulus terrestris extract interfere with tocotrienol supplement use?
   A. We don't see any reason why tribulus terrestris extract would interfere with a tocotrienol supplement or any vitamin E product.


Q. I've been using a Rice Bran based tocotrienol supplement for 6 years and now have discovered that the research showing benefits of tocotrienol supplementation was done with Palm Oil based tocotrienols. Does Dr. Sahelian or his staff have any comments on whether there is any value in Rice Bran based tocotrienol supplements? I'm hoping I haven't wasted my money for the past 6 years!
   A. We have little research to determine whether tocotrienols from one food source are any better than another source. There is so little long term human research available on different tocotrienols and their sources that it is anybody's guess at this time which source is better.


Q. A.C. Grace, the distributors of UniqueE brand vitamin E supplement have recently come out with a new 100% tocotrienol product. It is derived from annatto and what sets it apart purportedly from other rice-bran and palm derived tocotrienol supplements on the market is that it contains no tocopherols whatsoever -- just tocotrienols. It comes in 100 mg capsules. Does Dr. Sahelian have any thoughts on this A.C. Grace Unique supplement and the fact it is a relatively large dose. Most other tocotrienols come in 50mg capsules.
   A. I prefer using a combination of tocotrienols and tocopherols. I also am not a proponent of high dose vitamin E use.


Q. I am pleased to share with you the results from a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, School of Medicine, which showed the following : Gamma-tocotrienol is the most cardioprotective of all the tocotrienol isomers. This is an interesting finding as the gamma-tocotrienol form (including gamma-tocopherol) is the most abundantly found in our diet. Delta-tocotrienol is the least potent in term of cardioprotection. All the tocotrienols has much higher cardioprotective properties compared to regular alpha-tocopherol vitamin E. Gamma-tocotrienol and alpha-tocotrienol have the highest cardioprotective function but not delta-tocotrienol. Similar to what is found in nature (palm oil, barley, wheat, etc) Carotech’s Tocomin has the highest levels of gamma- and alpha-tocotrienol, making it the preferred choice of mixed tocotrienols for nutritional supplements for heart health. WH Leong, Vice President, Carotech Inc.
   A. One or two short term studies do not give a clear indication regarding the long term benefits of various tocotrienol supplements. After several decades of researching the role of calcium supplements in terms of osteoporosis prevention or treatment, there are still many unanswered questions regarding the ideal form of calcium intake, the ideal dosage, and how it should be combined with other nutrients such as vitamin D. The use of supplements for the prevention and treatment of various health conditions is extremely complicated and one cannot jump to conclusions based on limited information.


Do you know if tocotrienols actually reduce estrogen levels? I have read things they can help with, such as bone loss, but need to avoid anything that would reduce estrogen levels that are already too low even though non-menopausal. I've been unable to get a reply from manufacturers of the products (they probably don't know).
   I don't know for sure but I doubt they would have a significant influence.

Tocotrienol and Tocopherol Complex supplement
Tocotrienols and tocopherols are potent antioxidants that are 100% natural. These nutrients have been combined with d-alpha tocopherol, and yeast-free Selenium. The result is a synergistic combination of nutritional antioxidants.
Buy Tocotrienol supplement

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Softgel
Serving Per Container: 60
  Amount Per Serving % DV
Palm Tocotrienol-Tocopherol Complex (Tocomin SupraBio) 375 mg *
Tocotrienols (d-alpha, d-beta, d-gamma, d-delta) 57 mg  
Vitamin E (as d-alpha tocopherol) 15 mg (22 IU) 73%
* Daily Value not established.

Use: As a dietary supplement, take one tocotrienol and tocopherol softgel 2 or 3 times a week with food. Since vitamin E is fat soluble and is stored if fat tissue in the body, it need not be taken every day.

Q. I just reviewed tocotrienols on your page. I was saddened to see that palm oil is used in this product. Conflict palm oil is a leading cause of Rainforest destruction….and habitat loss for the orangutan, big cats, Sumatran Tiger, and elephants.
   A. The amount of palm oil used in such vitamin E supplements is so miniscule that it is irrelevant when compared to the amounts used in food products.

Products also available to buy online
Jarrow Formulas, Famil-E, 60 Softgels