Metabolic syndrome is defined as a set of health risk factors that are associated with an increased chance of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. These include abdominal obesity, hyperglycemia, impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia, and hypertension. Interventions in metabolic syndrome include lifestyle interventions such as a healthy diet using functional foods together with increased physical activity to induce weight loss as the first aim of treatment. Nutraceuticals such as tocotrienols and tocopherols as members of the vitamin E family may be more targeted interventions. This review evaluates the effects of tocotrienols on the risk factors of metabolic syndrome using data from human, animal and in vitro studies. Tocotrienols improved lipid profiles and reduced atherosclerotic lesions, decreased blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin concentrations, normalized blood pressure, and inhibited adipogenesis. The differences in responses between tocopherols and tocotrienols in preventing obesity, diabetes, hypertension, artherosclerosis, ischemia, and inflammation suggest that different receptors or signaling mechanisms may be involved.
Keywords: Metabolic syndrome, tocotrienols, tocopherols, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, adipogenesis, artherosclarosis, chylomicrons, hepatocytes
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