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Recent Study Indicates Supplementation of Tocotrienol-Rich Vitamin E Supports Kidney Function

annatto and kidney

The physiological benefits of vitamin E tocotrienols are well-known, as evidenced by the scientific literature. Vitamin E tocotrienols contain properties that vitamin E tocopherols lack, such as the commonly used alpha-tocopherols. 

Research has shown that vitamin E tocotrienols (particularly the delta- and gamma-isomers) possess cytotoxic effects associated with the induction of apoptosis. Vitamin E tocotrienols may also be beneficial as an adjunct in treating metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and age-related eye disorders.

Tocotrienols in Diabetic Kidney Disease

A recent human clinical trial published in Nutrients investigated the effects of supplementation with tocotrienol-rich vitamin E on diabetic kidney disease (DKD). In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, researchers evaluated DKD patients for the effects of tocotrienol-rich vitamin E supplementation with 200 mg twice per day for 12 months from a study of 59 DKD patients with 31 patients who were placed in the intervention group and 28 in the placebo group. Renal parameters, anti-fibrotic biomarkers, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) were collected from all patients every two months to monitor adverse events and compliance.

More on Diabetic Kidney Disease (DKD)

DKD “is a debilitating microvascular complication of diabetes progressing to end-stage renal failure (ESRF)” whose pathophysiology is multifaceted and not fully understood. However, the overproduction of advanced glycation end products and byproducts from major metabolic pathways (including the protein kinase C, polyol, and hexosamine pathways) caused by chronic hyperglycemia often results in microvascular and macrovascular complications of diabetes, specifically upregulating endothelial activity in the renal glomeruli.

Tocotrienol supplementation in DKD

After eight months, tocotrienol-rich vitamin E supplementation improved kidney function parameters by significantly reduced serum creatinine levels. It greatly increased estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) compared to a placebo. No changes were found in renal parameters at 12 months, suggesting that tocotrienols’ renoprotective effects may only be sustained until eight months post-supplementation. No significant changes were observed in urea, uric acid, anti-fibrotic parameters, or HbA1c.

Additional support in DKD

Adopting a low-glycemic diet, abundant in potassium-rich vegetables and fruits, and increasing physical activity may be the first line of defence for supporting kidney health and managing blood glucose and insulin metabolism in DKD. In addition, resveratrol supplementation in vitro and human clinical studies has shown positive effects in diabetic nephropathy and kidney disease due to its powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E tocotrienols have antioxidant properties that may be an additional clinically relevant tool for supporting kidney function and potentially reducing the progression of diabetic kidney disease, along with a potential reduction in the risk of developing ESRF. More long-term, human trials are needed to confirm the beneficial effects of vitamin E tocotrienols on kidney health in diabetic patients.

By Caitlin Higgins, MS, CNS, LDN