The tocotrienol (or TCT) group-together with tocopherols-compose the vitamin E family. Natural tocotrienols exist in four different forms or isomers, named alpha-, beta-, gamma- and delta- tocotrienol, each which contain different number of methyl groups on the chromanol ring. The major structural difference from tocopherol is through its unsaturated side chain that has three double bonds in its farnesyl isoprenoid tail. All of the isomers have been demonstrated to have some level of antioxidant activity due to the donating hydrogen atom from the hydroxyl group on the chromanol ring that might reduce free radicals in the body. However, some of the isomers have been further investigated through a number of clinical and non-clinical studies for other biological activities. The investigations have shown promise in pre-clinical and clinical applications that include cancer treatment and cholestrol control, benefits that may be lesser or even lacking in the more commonly used synthetic alpha-tocopherol as discussed later.
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