NPD opportunities: Palm oil tocotrienol approved to make cognitive health, antioxidant claims in Malaysia

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Palm oil is rich in tocotrienol, a type of vitamin E. © Getty Images
Palm oil is rich in tocotrienol, a type of vitamin E. © Getty Images

Related tags Palm oil Tocotrienol Malaysia

Malaysia’s Ministry of Health has approved two health claims for products that contain a specific dosage of palm oil tocotrienol, which is believed will help drive new product development in this area.

Food and supplements containing palm tocotrienol-rich fraction, also known as palm TRF or palm tocotrienols / tocopherol complex, can now carry the claims “TRF may help to improve cognitive function” and “TRF is an antioxidant and may help to reduce oxidative stress”.

The claims can be applied to a wide range of products that come in the form of food and beverage, or the traditional dietary supplement dosage forms, such as tablets and capsules.

However, the finished product must contain a minimum of 10mg of pure tocotrienols per 100g of solid finished product, or in per 100ml of liquid product​, before it could make the claims.

This announcement came after the authorities had assessed the science and consulted the public for their opinions back in year 2021.

Tocotrienol is a type of vitamin E and makes up about 70 per cent of the total vitamin E in palm oil. The palm fruit, on the other hand, is a major agricultural crop of Malaysia.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Bryan See, vice president, business development and technical support at Malaysia-based functional ingredient firm PhytoGaia, said the approval would open up more spaces for new product development and the company has started reaching out to potential customers to do so.

The company is a supplier of full spectrum tocotrienols / tocopherol complex branded TocoGaia. The ingredient, which comes in powder form, could be fortified into beverages, food, cooking oil, as well as be made into supplement forms such as tablets, capsules, and soft gels. 

“We expect to see new products coming out in the next six months to one year’s time. For example, you can formulate an olive oil enhanced with tocotrienol to make the newly approved claims,” ​See said.

In this case, the product will be registered as a food product. However, if the end product comes in the form of tablets, soft gels or capsules, it will fall under the drug registration rules. ​ 

Palm TRF could also be combined with ingredients such as omega-3 which could work synergistically to benefit cognitive health, he added.

This is said to be the first time that palm TRF is approved to make health claims. Prior to that, products containing tocotrienols are only allowed to make structure function claims that are subjected to the Malaysian authority’s approval.

Clinical study

PhytoGaia is currently in the midst of planning for a clinical study to show evidence of its palm TRF ingredient on the two newly approved health claims.

The trial will involve 31 subjects over a six-month period.

“This new study is using powder drinks and the researchers are looking at the different markers to find the antioxidant and also the neuroprotective effect of tocotrienol,” ​See said.

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