Did you know there are eight forms of vitamin E—four types of tocotrienols and four types of tocopherols? Both provide some great health benefits, but here we will focus on tocotrienols and their role in menopause.
What are tocotrienols?
Tocotrienols are a type of chemical in the vitamin E family. Four types of tocotrienols are found naturally: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Although tocotrienols and tocopherols are similar in structure, they have some different health benefits.
Tocopherols are a more common form of vitamin E than tocotrienols, mainly because they appear in the diet more than do tocotrienols. Some vitamin E supplements contain tocopherols exclusively. Tocotrienols are found in barley, oats, palm fruit, rice bran, and wheat germ, but they are present in very low amounts. Fortunately, you can get them in supplement form as well, but be sure to check the ingredient panel on the package.
How tocotrienols can benefit women in menopause
Tocotrienols have demonstrated an ability to help with several health challenges that face women in perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopause. For example:
Cardiovascular health. The risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular issues rises significantly among women after age 50, so it’s a good time to focus on natural supplements to support good cardio health. Research shows, for example, that tocotrienols may help lower cholesterol levels and slow the accumulation of plaque in the arteries.
A study in Atherosclerosis reported that diabetics who took tocotrienols showed a 23 percent decline in total serum lipids, a 30 percent decline in total cholesterol, and a 42 percent drop in bad (LDL) cholesterol. Several studies conducted in rabbits and rats have shown how this form of vitamin E can lower markers of heart muscle damage and inflammation, reduce levels of homocysteine (which contributes to cardiovascular disease), and reduce levels of C-reactive protein and cytokines, which cause inflammation that damages the heart and blood vessels.
Bone health: Loss of bone density is common among women in the menopause years, with osteoporosis especially occurring in postmenopause. Animal research has shown that tocotrienols are superior to other vitamin E-based supplements for healing and strengthening bone fractures in postmenopausal rats with osteoporosis. Several more animal studies also show that tocotrienols can prevent and reverse bone loss and osteoporosis, which has been credited to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of this vitamin E.
Brain health: Brain fog, impaired cognitive function, and memory lapses are frequent complaints starting in perimenopause. Research suggests that tocotrienols may enhance brain health and function because they can easily reach the brain.
Skin health: With the dramatic decline in estrogen, skin health can suffer. Tocotrienols are potent antioxidants that may help slow damage to the skin from free radicals. Some studies indicate that applying lotions with tocotrienols may provide some relief and reduce fine wrinkles.
Using tocotrienol supplements
Tocotrienol supplements typically are joined by D-alpha-tocopherol. However, there is a unique tocotrienol supplement combined with black cumin seed oil that is tocopherol-free. This supplement should not be taken within six hours of a product that contains D-alpha-tocopherol.
Tocotrienols are a form of vitamin E that provides cardiovascular, brain, and bone benefits that may be helpful for women in perimenopause and beyond.