There is a way to protect our brains.

Nearly twenty years ago, studies showed that vitamin E protected some patients’ brains after strokes. Ohio State University discovered that alpha-tocotrienol is responsible for stopping or reducing an enzyme from releasing fatty acids that eventually kill the neurons in the brain after a stroke. All tests to date have been done with animals and laboratory cell models.

Vitamin E is two distinct chemical classes with a total of eight different chemicals. One class is called tocotrienol, and the other is tocopherol. Each class has four different chemicals, named alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Tocopherols are the most common.

Each of the eight different chemicals that make up vitamin E has a distinct function. Recent testing has shown that alpha-tocotrienol can reduce the damage done by stroke and possibly even prevent strokes in humans.

A stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, or when a blood clot enters the brain and cuts off blood circulation to the brain. Symptoms include unexpected numbness or paralysis on one side, sudden severe headaches, abrupt vision changes, and an inability to understand or speak. Strokes can be initiated by hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

When a stroke occurs, the neurotransmitter glutamate is released. Glutamate is essential and beneficial for memory and learning processes. However, glutamate is released in large amounts during a stroke. Glutamate triggers many chemical processes that result in the symptoms associated with stroke victims.

Arachidonic acid (AA) is a fatty acid in the brain. AA helps to maintain the stability of cell membranes under normal conditions. AA undergoes a chemical change and becomes toxic in the presence of excess glutamate. Your neurons, brain cells, are destroyed by the increased toxicity of the modified AA.

Alpha-tocotrienol specifically pursues the enzyme called cytosolic calcium-dependent phospholipase A2 (cPLA2 or A2). A2 is activated when you have a stroke. Alpha-tocotrienol stops the enzyme from activating and protects your brain’s neurons from destruction.

The exciting thing is that it takes exceptionally little alpha-tocotrienol to be effective – 250 nanomolar dose. The typical amount of alpha-tocotrienol available through vitamin E supplements is usually ten times this amount.

Ensure you verify that all eight forms of vitamin E are present in the vitamin E supplement you buy if your diet does not provide you with adequate amounts of vitamin E daily. Alpha-tocotrienol has been shown in laboratory tests to reduce the release of AA by 60% when excess glutamate is present.

Brain cells pretreated with alpha-tocotrienol before a stroke have a four-fold increase in survival when excess glutamate is present.

The most common form of vitamin E found in supplements is alpha-tocopherol, not alpha-tocotrienol. More alpha-tocopherol is found in European food compared to American food. The most common type of vitamin E in the American diet is gamma-tocopherol.

The typical American diet does not contain all forms of vitamin E. The American diet lacks many tocotrienols. However, the standard Southeast Asian food does contain these nutrients. Tocotrienols are usually found in rice bran oil, barley, wheat germ, and oats.

The highest concentration of alpha-tocotrienol is found in coconut (0.79 mg/100 g). Coconut also had 0.18 mg of gamma-tocotrienol per 100 grams. The second place goes to frozen and blanched corn (0.38 mg/100 g). Third place for alpha-tocotrienols goes to cranberry (0.33 mg/100 g)

I buy mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols when looking for a vitamin E supplement. There is not a single food source that contains all eight compounds that makeup vitamin E.

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