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The Next Big ‘E’ – Tocotrienols and the science-based business opportunity

The market for vitamin E remains robust. According to Euromonitor International, worldwide sales of vitamin E (defined as the “fat soluble vitamin used for the immune system and blood health”) rose from US$964.6 million in 2008 to more than $1billion in 2012. Back in the United States, vitamin E sales were close to $300 million in 2012.

In its “Nutritional Supplement/OTC/Rx Consumer Insight & Market Opportunity Report”, released in February 2012, the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) ranked vitamin E seventh on its list of top used supplements: 14 percent of 2,355 U.S. adults polled claimed to take it.

And Americaan can get their vitamin E in numerious ways – not just the traditional formats. According to Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics, the top 10 food and non-alcohol beverage categories in the United States featuring vitamin A as an ingredient from Jan.1, 2012, to Aug. 15, 2013, were:

What these data don’t show is what kind of vitamin E consumers are purchasing: tocotrienols, tocopherols or a combination. And that might be a concern event if, “Alpha-tocopherol is found in most multivitamins and is supplemented in foods,” according to Barrie Tan, Ph.D., founder of American River Nutrition.

However, vitamin E is more than just the alpha-tocopherol most commonly used in fortification. C.W. Fong, Ph.D., head of research and development (R&D) at Davos Life Science Pte. Ltd. based in Singapore, said despite research attempting to “unravel alpha-tocopherol’s other effects,” its main function in the body remains the same. He called it “a lipid-based, non-specific-chain-breaking antioxidant, mainly to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidative stress,” based on current research. He added tocotrienols have much to offer since “recent research indicates they confer additional benefits not provided by alpha-tocopherol.” Studies, he added, show tocotrienols “have biological functions beyond acting as an antioxidant.”

Tocotrienols have now stepped into limelight of vitamin E research, and have proven to contain some exceptional benefits that are not shared by their “older” tocopherol siblings.

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