Interview with Dr. Barrie Tan

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All of you know about vitamin E. Its benefits have been researched for almost 100 years. What many of you may not know is that there eight different vitamin E molecules and they all have different properties and benefits. There are two main classes of vitamin E, tocopherols which is the most common form, and tocotrienols, the lesser known but perhaps more important. Each class of vitamin E is divided into four sub types, alpha, beta, delta and gamma. The most commonly used form vitamin E is d-alpha tocopherol. In this interview with Dr. Barrie Tan, we will discuss the benefits of tocotrienols from annatto. In nature, tocotrienol is derived from plant sources that include annatto, palm, and rice bran oil.


How Does It Work?

Although at first glance, the vitamin E particles appear the same, nuances in their molecular framework set them apart. While both are exceptional antioxidants, only tocotri

enol is more flexible due to three double bonds in the tail region of the molecule, resulting in benefits other than protection from oxidation. Furthermore, smaller tocotrienol molecules, namely delta- and gamma-tocotrienol, were shown to be most potent for most applications, since their small size allows easier access to cell membranes to more readily quench free radicals.

Three Sources of Tocotrienol

Until 2003, the only commercial sources of natural tocotrienol were palm and rice. Hence, early studies utilized

tocotrienol derived from these two sources. Both sources, however, contain significant amounts of alpha-tocopherol, which was established to interfere with tocotrienol benefits. “Palm tocotrienol” and “rice tocotrienol”, also sometimes called tocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF), are actually mixtures of tocopherol and tocotrienol, typically containing 25-50% tocopherol (mostly as alpha-tocopherol). Annatto naturally provides only the most potent delta- and gamma-tocotrienol while being tocopherol-free, a composition never before seen.


About Dr. Barrie Tan
Dr. Barrie Tan earned his doctorate in chemistry with emphasis on biochemistry at the University of Otago, New Zealand. He later became a professor of chemistry and food science/nutrition at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research expertise includes lipid-soluble materials such as carotenoids, tocotrienols/tocopherols, CoQ10, omega-3s and cholesterol. He was the first to introduce tocotrienol’s benefits to the nutrition industry.


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Steve Lankford talks to Brenda Watson about omega-3 oils and digestive health.

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NOTE: The statements presented in this podcast should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. WholeFoods Magazine does not endorse any specific brand or product.

Published by WholeFoods Magazine Online, 3/31/15