Vitamin E Can Prevent Nerve Cell Death After A Stroke

January 20, 2010


A study at Ohio State University has shown that blocking the function of an enzyme in the brain with a specific kind of vitamin E can prevent nerve cells from dying after a stroke. Following the trauma of blocked blood flow associated with a stroke, an excessive amount of glutamate is released in the brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that, in tiny amounts, has important roles in learning and memory. Too much of it triggers a sequence of reactions that lead to the death of brain cells, or neurons — the most damaging effects of a stroke.

Tocotrienol, a form of vitamin E, works by stopping the enzyme from releasing fatty acids that eventually kill nerve cells. It has already been studied over the last ten years and has been established that this form of vitamin E protects the brain in animals though not conclusively proved yet in humans.

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 like soy, wheat germ and sunflower, tocotrienols are concentrated in cereal grains such as oat, barley, rye, and rice bran. The various different forms of natural vitamin E have distinct functions and tocotrienol targets specific pathways to protect against neural cell death and rescues the brain after stroke injury

Tocotrienols and tocopherols are potent antioxidants that are 100% natural and can be derived from rice bran oil and palm oil distillates and are available in supplement form. Tocotrienol or TCT, is not abundant in the western diet but is a common component of a typical Southeast Asian diet.

What is interesting is that the amount of tocotrienol needed to achieve these effects is quite small — just 250 nanomolar, a concentration about 10 times lower than the average amount of tocotrienol circulating in anyone who regularly takes vitamin E. The benefits of vitamin E are well known for health, it a acts as a powerful antioxidant by neutralizing free radicals in the body that cause tissue and cellular damage and contributes to a healthy circulatory system.


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