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Vitamin E From Annatto May Boost Heart-Healthy Diet

Annatto is derived from the seeds of the achiote trees of tropical and subtropical regions around the world, and is a rich source of tocotrienols. A recent study suggests that taking vitamin E supplements extracted from annatto may increase the heart health benefits of the American Heart Association Step-1 diet.

Vitamin E has eight different forms: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and has been shown to help many aspects of the body. Previous studies suggest that many tocopherols (common in the American diet) may inhibit the absorption of tocotrienols. Annatto is the only known source of vitamin E that naturally has tocotrienols but no tocopherols.

Participants in the study included 31 people between the ages of 50 and 71 who had high cholesterol. All of the participants followed the American Heart Association Step-1 diet for four weeks. During this time they also took either 125, 250, 500, or 750 mg daily of tocotrienol that contained 90% delta- and 10% gamma-tocotrienols. All of the participants took all four doses over the course of the 30-week study.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found that simply changing to the heart healthy diet lowered lipid levels by 2-3%. After only four weeks, the 250 mg dose was found to be associated with a 15% decrease in total cholesterol, 18% decrease n LDL cholesterol, and a 14% decrease in triglycerides.

They also found that the cytokines associated with cardiovascular were all were down-regulated 39% to 64%.

There were no positive associations with the 125 mg dose, although the researchers theorized that there might have been if the study period was extended to eight weeks. Additionally, no effect on cholesterol was noted for the higher doses, leading the researchers to conclude that 250 mg was the ideal dose for heart health.

There were no negative side effects noted at any of the dosage levels.

Researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the National University of Medical Sciences in Pakistan conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print in January 2015 in the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research.

Previous studies have shown that vitamin E intake is associated with lower cholesterol, healthier skin, maintaining a proper hormonal balance, and preventing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). If you’re looking to add more vitamin E to your diet, try eating more sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots.

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