Eastman Chemical Company: Growing The Tocotrienols Segment
The originator of natural source vitamin E more than 50 years ago is back in business, this time with the manufacture of tocotrienols, the four compounds that, along with tocopherols, make up the vitamin E family. Eastman Chemical Company, Kingsport, TN—which has been a supplier to the food industry for over 50 years —had exited the vitamin E business in 1996, but has recently been making a name for itself in the tocotrienol segment. Eastman’s NuTriene tocotrienol line—officially launched in 1997—is a natural blend of tocotrienols and vitamin E extracted and concentrated from rice bran oil distillate. Market potential for the product remains high, said Eileen Mowry, Business Manager-Nutrition & Food Preservatives, “Research into tocotrienols is relatively new and it will be 10 years possibly before it reaches its peak,” she said. “Awareness is growing, however. There is a great deal of interest in vitamin E and studies are ongoing.”
Commenting on the NuTriene product, Ms. Mowry said, “We have perfected the extraction technique, which is a patented process. We are the only domestic supplier of tocotrienols and we are supplying the only GMO-free vitamin E product.” She continued, “The message here is intriguing: why not use the full complement to alpha tocopherols? Rice bran has both tocotrienols and tocopherols and compared to palm oil, has a higher concentration of gamma tocotrienols, which appear to have the strongest potential for dietary health benefits, according to recent clinical studies.”
Speaking of clinical studies, Eastman is in the fifth year of clinical human trials on tocotrienols and the reduction of plaque. The study, which is being conducted at the K.L. Jordan Heart Research Foundation in Montclair, NJ, is monitoring 50 patients, half of whom are taking a tocotrienol-rich product and half placebo. In the placebo group, plaque has gotten worse in the majority of the patients, while in the tocotrienol group, 88% have either improved or stabilized. According to Ms. Mowry, “It is remarkable that 40% of the patients receiving the tocotrienol product actually improved.” The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Environmental and Nutritional Interactions (9/28/99).
There is also evidence of cancer prevention, she said. “The very promising early research has been with cell cultures and laboratory animals, but we are now working with researchers, some supported by the National Cancer Institute, for direct evaluation of tocotrienols in humans,” she commented.
“Consumer awareness of tocotrienols is in its infancy,” said Ms. Mowry in summary. “This is an entirely new message and for now, the savvy health conscious consumer is the customer. But there are definite health benefits and we have initiated a comprehensive program to educate the mainstream consumer about them. We are utilizing the popular book The Vitamin E Factor by Dr. Andreas Papas and we have also developed two websites, www.nutriene.com and www.vitamine-factor.com.”
In addition to NuTriene tocotrienols, Eastman has announced an intent to commercialize its newest process for making ascorbic acid from glucose, a refined product of corn. This process combines the best of chemistry and biotechnology and is a major breakthrough in the development of chemicals from corn, said Ms. Mowry. “It underscores Eastman’s interest in the food and nutrition business.”
Eastman Chemical Company
P.O. Box 431
Kingsport, TN 37662-5280
Websites: www.nutriene.com and www.vitamine-factor.com
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