Palm oil rich with vitamin E linked to improved cognitive function in mice

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / slpu9945
Getty Images / slpu9945

Related tags Palm oil Tocotrienol Alzheimer's disease

Researchers in Malaysia induced Alzheimer’s Disease in mice and supplemented palm-derived tocotrienol, a type of vitamin E. They found a link between the vitamin and improvements in brain function.

Long-term supplementation of palm a fraction rich in tocotrienols led to improved exploratory activity, memory, and learning abilities in the mice, based on their performance in running through a maze and other similar activities, the researchers reported.

Analysis of the mice’s brains after the intervention period also suggested that those supplemented with the palm tocotrienol had fewer abnormalities in the brain.

Their goal was to explore a natural-source antioxidant as a therapeutic, preventive strategy against cognitive decline like Alzheimer’s by examining the changes supplementation brings on behavioral indices and the metabolites in the brain (a practice known as metabolomics).

“Clinical studies conducted to date have reported inconsistent therapeutic efficacy,” ​the researchers, from National University of Malaysia and Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, wrote in their report​, which was published recently in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

It was funded by grants from the Japan Society for Promotion of Science and the Ministry of Education of Malaysia, which happens to be the second-largest palm oil-producing country in the world​.


Marketers of tocotrienol argue that knowledge around this form of vitamin E lags compared to the more widely used form alpha-tocopherol, “primarily because tocotrienol was discovered in plants 40 years after alpha-tocopherol. Just by virtue of the delay, the literature published simply [lagged]​,” Dr. Barrie Tan, founder and president of Massachusetts-based American River Nutrition, which supplies tocotrienol from annatto, told us in a past interview​.

But science around the fat-soluble vitamin continues emerge. Multiple studies have linked it to a slew of health benefits, from bone health​ to metabolic syndromes​.

This new study builds evidence to tocotrienol’s cognitive health benefits. “We are pleased to know tocotrienol-rich fraction of palm is able to ameliorate brain abnormalities and behavioral changes caused by Alzheimer’s disease,”​ said Diyanah Roslan, nutritionist at ExcelVite, a Malaysia-based supplier of tocotrienols derived from palm oil branded as EVNol Suprabio, commenting independently on the study.

“The number of people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is expected to increase worldwide and it is best if we could halt or slow down the progression of this disease from the very early stage,” ​she added.

Study details

Five-month-old mice induced with Alzheimer’s Disease were divided into three groups: A control group with no supplementation, a tocotrienol group receiving 60 mg/kg Palm Tocotrienol-Rich Fraction, and a group receiving palm oil stripped of vitamin E. A non-Alzheimer’s wild-type mice receiving water (WT-ctrl) acted as a positive control.

Daily administration of the palm tocotrienols and placebo were carried out for 10 months and all mice were subjected to behavioral tasks (running through a maze, ‘open field,’ and shallow pool) for 13 days before they were sacrificed for the metalobomics analysis.

Source: Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease
Published online, doi: 10.3233/JAD-170880
“Tocotrienol-Rich Fraction of Palm Oil Improves Behavioral Impairments and Regulates Metabolic Pathways in AβPP/PS1 Mice”
Authors: Lina Wati Durani, et al

Related topics Science

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