New data supports tocotrienols' role in increasing skeletal muscle weight

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Esdelval
Getty Images / Esdelval

Related tags Tocotrienol Vitamin e Diabetes Blood sugar

A study on obese mice revealed a correlation between supplementing with tocotrienols and an increase in skeletal muscle weight and muscle fiber.

“Increasing skeletal muscle weight—this is really novel for tocotrienols,”​ said Dr Barrie Tan, who founded the tocotrienol supplier American River Nutrition​ in 1998. Researchers from Texas Tech University, authors of this present study, investigated Dr Tan’s flagship ingredient—tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) derived from annatto, marketed with the brand name DeltaGold.

These latest results were published recently​ in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.

The study’s main objective was to explore the synergistic effects of supplementing annatto tocotrienols with green tea polyphenols in mice with chronic disease.

Both ingredients have been the subject of study for their anti-diabetic properties, and while many researchers have observed the ingredients’ individual effects on oxidative stress and blood sugar responses, few published studies focus on the ingredients’ effects on skeletal muscle function, which tends to be compromised among obese and diabetic patients.

“Findings from [this study] will advance the understanding of these bioactive compounds and their effects on skeletal muscle biology in humans with hyperglycemia and insulin resistance,” ​the researchers argued.

Study confirms that ingredient works best on its own

The researchers divided the mice into four groups: A control group, a group supplemented with just tocotrienols, a group supplemented with just green tea, and a group supplemented with both.

All mice were fed a high-fat diet to induce obesity so that the researchers can estimate the effects of the study ingredients in an obese population. They found that the ingredients had different effects on the obese mice. For example, the green tea only mice exhibited increased muscle in the calves.

There were some synergistic effects, such as the improved glucose tolerance using a GTT test in mice that received both supplements. But these results were not replicated when the researchers used a different method (ITT) to test glucose tolerance.

Moreover, they found a counteracting effect: While tocotrienol supplemented increased muscle fiber in the shins in a process known as citrate synthase, the addition of green tea negated this effect in the mixed group.

“[Green tea polyphenols] essentially reduced tocotrienol’s beneficial effect on mitochondrial function in the muscle,”​ Dr Tan told us, commenting independently on the study.

He added that the results make the case that, for now at least, tocotrienol works best on its own. “Because of this finding, we have some qualms about using the two nutrients in combo.”

Nevertheless, the researchers suggested that the ingredients have a therapeutic potential to prevent muscle atrophy, which is commonly seen in patients with insulin resistance and elevated blood glucose.

Funding for the study came from American River Nutrition and the Obesity Research Cluster.

Source: The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry
Published online ahead of print,
“Effect of annatto-extracted tocotrienols and green tea polyphenols on glucose homeostasis and skeletal muscle metabolism in obese male mice”
Authors: Eunhee Chung, et al.

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