Tocotrienols, or “Tocos” as they’re affectionately known, have been around for a while, but more recently, they’ve become increasingly popular thanks to the growing alternative wellness market. Like turmeric and medicinal mushrooms, Tocotrienols can be found in powdered form and can be plucked off the shelf to adorn your lattes and smoothie bowls.
What exactly are tocotrienols?
Despite their newly acquired status as chic wellness staple, they’re actually derived from fairly humble sources: palm fruit, rice bran, barley oils, wheat germ, and oats (basically, tocos are the bran without the fiber). At one point, tocotrienols were prohibitively expensive, but sound-wave extraction technology has made them easier to produce—and more affordable for us!
Tocotrienols are part of the vitamin E family. Vitamin E is divided into two sub-groups: tocotrienols and tocopherols (and there are four types per each sub-category, making eight distinct forms of vitamin E). Tocotrienols are rather under-researched (in fact, less than 1% of research on vitamin E concerns tocotrienols). We do know, however, that tocotrienols offer antioxidant support and provide unique benefits when compared to their tocopherol siblings:
“Tocotrienols exhibit health benefits quite different from that of tocopherols, and in most cases, these activities are superior for human use,” biochemist Bharat B. Aggarwal, Ph.D., of The University of Texas M.D. explains. “We now know different isomers of tocotrienols exhibit distinct activities. While alpha-tocotrienol is highly effective in the brain for cerebral ischemia, gamma and delta tocotrienol exhibit strong anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory activities.”
Moreover, tocotrienols have been associated with supporting brain health (including reducing the risk of stroke), improving non-alcoholic liver disease, lowering cholesterol, providing anti-cancer effects, and improving the function of the arteries.
In more good news, tocotrienols are easily tolerated by most people, considered safe within the recommended dosage, and do not interact with other medications (with one exception). Tocotrienols have anticoagulant properties and therefore may not be appropriate for individuals with certain blood conditions. As always, consult with your medical provider before altering your supplement regimen.
Finally, their supply of vitamin E (and D), antioxidants, and fatty acids make tocotrienols a beauty food as well. If you’re nourishing your brain and heart, you might as well give a boost to your skin, too!
What do tocotrienols taste like—and how do I use them?
Tocotrienols have a slightly sweet, mild malted flavor. They go well with sweet or creamy foods like shakes, wellness lattes, moon milks, smoothie bowls, raw desserts, and even your morning oatmeal. Tocotrienol powder can even be used as a non-dairy creamer! If you’re feeling adventurous, mix tocotrienols into your face mask for a hydrating, anti-inflammatory effect. Alternatively, tocotrienols also exist in pill form for those who prefer to get their fix with one swallow.
Where do I get tocotrienols?
Tocos are available at health food stores and wellness boutiques alike. Below are a few online options.
Have you tried tocotrienols? What’s your favorite way to ingest this powerhouse supplement?