Osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease, is characterized by low bone mass and microstructural deterioration of bone tissue resulting in aggravated bone fragility and susceptibility to fractures. The trend of extended life expectancy is accompanied by a rise in the prevalence of osteoporosis and concomitant complications in the elderly population. Epidemiological evidence has shown an association between vitamin E consumption and the prevention of age-related bone loss in elderly women and men. Animal studies show that ingestion of vitamin E, especially tocotrienols, may benefit bone health in terms of maintaining higher bone mineral density and improving bone microstructure and quality. The beneficial effects of tocotrienols on bone health appear to be mediated via antioxidant/anti-inflammatory pathways and/or 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A mechanisms. We discuss (1) an overview of the prevalence and etiology of osteoporosis, (2) types of vitamin E (tocopherols versus tocotrienols), (3) findings of tocotrienols and bone health from published in vitro and animal studies, (4) possible mechanisms involved in bone protection, and (5) challenges and future direction for research.
- bone health
- vitamin E