The most potent Vitamin E is found in Annatto or Achiote Tree

I have to credit Dave Asprey, Mister Bulletproof Coffee, for pointing me to the immense health benefits of the Annatto tree (also called the Achiote tree). So I wanted to dive in deeper and learn more about this tree.

Why Vitamin E from Annatto is so potent

Vitamin E sourced from the Annatto tree, specifically from its seeds, is considered one of the most potent forms due to several key factors:

  1. High Tocotrienol Content: The Annatto tree’s seeds are exceptionally rich in tocotrienols, a form of vitamin E. Tocotrienols are less common than tocopherols (the other form of vitamin E found in most supplements), and are known for their powerful antioxidant properties. Tocotrienols from Annatto are unique because they are naturally composed of 90% delta-tocotrienol and 10% gamma-tocotrienol, two of the most potent forms of vitamin E.
  2. Absence of Alpha-Tocopherol: Most sources of vitamin E contain alpha-tocopherol, which can interfere with the absorption and function of tocotrienols. Annatto-derived vitamin E is unique in that it is virtually free of alpha-tocopherol, enhancing the efficacy of its tocotrienols.
  3. Antioxidant Properties: Tocotrienols are powerful antioxidants. They protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress, which is linked to chronic diseases and aging. The antioxidant activity of tocotrienols, especially delta-tocotrienol, is considered superior to that of tocopherols.
  4. Biological Activities: Research suggests that tocotrienols from Annatto have various health benefits, including neuroprotective, anti-cancer, cholesterol-lowering, and anti-inflammatory properties. These effects are often more pronounced than those provided by the more common tocopherol forms of vitamin E.
  5. Sustainability: The Annatto tree is a sustainable source of vitamin E. It is commonly grown in tropical regions and its seeds are harvested without harming the tree, making it an environmentally friendly choice.

In summary, the high tocotrienol content, absence of alpha-tocopherol, potent antioxidant properties, wide range of biological activities, and sustainability make vitamin E from the Annatto tree one of the most potent and beneficial sources available.

Geranylgeraniol in the Annatto tree

Geranylgeraniol (GG) is a biologically active compound found in the Annatto plant. It has been the subject of scientific research due to its potential health benefits, particularly regarding cell membranes and mitochondrial energy production. Here’s how GG impacts these areas:

  1. Impact on Cell Membranes:
    • Stabilization and Fluidity: GG can be incorporated into cell membranes, influencing their stability and fluidity. This is important for maintaining the proper function of the cell membrane, which is critical for various cellular processes.
    • Protein Prenylation: GG is involved in the process of protein prenylation, a post-translational modification where lipid groups are added to proteins. This modification is crucial for attaching certain proteins to cell membranes, impacting their function and location within the cell.
    • Cell Signaling: By affecting the cell membrane structure and the location of proteins, GG can influence cell signaling pathways. This is significant for various cellular responses, including growth, differentiation, and apoptosis (programmed cell death).
  2. Impact on Mitochondrial Energy Production:
    • Role in the Electron Transport Chain: Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, responsible for producing energy in the form of ATP. GG is believed to play a role in the electron transport chain, the final stage of cellular respiration in mitochondria.
    • Antioxidant Properties: GG possesses antioxidant properties, which can protect mitochondrial components from oxidative damage. This is crucial for maintaining mitochondrial integrity and function.
    • Enhancing ATP Production: By supporting the electron transport chain and protecting mitochondrial components, GG may contribute to more efficient ATP production. This is essential for energy-intensive processes and overall cellular health.
  3. General Health Benefits:
    • Cardiovascular Health: GG has been suggested to support cardiovascular health through various mechanisms, including the maintenance of healthy cholesterol levels.
    • Anti-inflammatory Effects: It may exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial in reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

In summary, geranylgeraniol in Annatto plays a vital role in the stabilization and functionality of cell membranes, and it contributes to efficient energy production in mitochondria. These effects are important for overall cellular health and can impact various bodily functions and disease prevention strategies.

Geranylgeraniol (GG) and Vitamin K work in synergie

Geranylgeraniol (GG) complements Vitamin K2 in its role in regulating calcium disposition in the body, primarily through its involvement in the process of protein prenylation and the activation of certain proteins that are critical for calcium metabolism. Here’s an elaboration on this synergy:

  1. Protein Prenylation:
    • Basic Process: Protein prenylation involves attaching lipid groups (like geranylgeraniol) to proteins. This modification is essential for the proper function and localization of these proteins within the cell.
    • Involvement of GG: Geranylgeraniol serves as a substrate for the prenylation of proteins. This process is vital for the activation of certain proteins, including those involved in calcium metabolism.
  2. Role in Conjunction with Vitamin K2:
    • Activation of Vitamin K-dependent Proteins: Vitamin K2 is crucial for the activation of specific proteins that regulate calcium deposition in bones and prevent its accumulation in arteries. These proteins include osteocalcin, which is involved in bone mineralization, and matrix Gla-protein (MGP), which inhibits calcification in blood vessels.
    • GG’s Contribution: GG enhances the prenylation of these Vitamin K-dependent proteins, particularly under conditions where the body’s ability to produce GG internally is compromised. By aiding in the activation of these proteins, GG complements the action of Vitamin K2.
  3. Regulation of Calcium Disposition:
    • Bone Health: The activated osteocalcin, with the help of Vitamin K2, binds calcium and helps in incorporating it into the bone matrix, thus promoting bone health and density.
    • Cardiovascular Health: MGP, once activated, inhibits the calcification of arteries. This is crucial for cardiovascular health as it prevents the hardening of arteries and related diseases.
  4. Synergistic Effects:
    • Enhanced Efficacy: The combined effect of GG and Vitamin K2 is greater than what each could achieve independently. GG ensures the proper activation of Vitamin K-dependent proteins, which in turn regulate calcium disposition effectively.

In conclusion, geranylgeraniol is complementary to Vitamin K2 in regulating calcium disposition by facilitating the activation of Vitamin K-dependent proteins. This synergistic relationship is significant for maintaining bone density and cardiovascular health, highlighting the importance of both nutrients in calcium metabolism.

Can you eat the Seeds of the Annatto Tree?

Yes, the seeds of the Annatto tree (Bixa Orellana) can be consumed, and they are, in fact, commonly used in various culinary applications. Here are some key points about consuming Annatto seeds:

  1. Culinary Use: Annatto seeds are often used as a natural coloring agent and a flavor enhancer in cooking. They impart a slightly sweet and peppery taste and a distinctive reddish-orange color, making them popular in Latin American, Caribbean, and Filipino cuisines.
  2. Preparation: The seeds are usually ground into a powder, made into a paste, or infused in oil or water to extract their color and flavor. This extract or paste is then added to food preparations.
  3. Uses in Food: Annatto is frequently used in dishes such as rice, sauces, soups, stews, cheeses (like Cheddar and Mimolette), and meat dishes. It’s known for giving a golden hue to butter and margarine.
  4. Nutritional Content: Annatto seeds contain compounds like bixin and norbixin, which are carotenoids responsible for their color. They also have a small amount of tocotrienols (a form of Vitamin E), making them not just a coloring agent but also a source of certain nutrients.
  5. Safety and Allergies: Generally, annatto seeds are considered safe for consumption. However, some individuals might be allergic or sensitive to annatto. In such cases, consumption can lead to allergic reactions.
  6. Traditional Medicinal Uses: In traditional medicine systems, annatto has been used for various purposes, although these uses are more based on traditional knowledge than scientific evidence.

While Annatto seeds are edible and widely used, it’s important to note that the raw seeds are not typically consumed directly. They are processed or cooked as part of a recipe. As with any ingredient, moderation is key, especially if you’re trying it for the first time or have any food sensitivities.

How do you extract Vitamin E from the Annatto Tree?

The process of extracting Vitamin E, particularly tocotrienols, from Annatto seeds involves several steps. The extraction is designed to isolate and concentrate the valuable tocotrienols while ensuring the purity and efficacy of the final product. Here’s an overview of the typical extraction process:

  1. Harvesting Annatto Seeds: The process begins with the collection of Annatto seeds from the Bixa orellana tree. These seeds are the primary source of tocotrienols, particularly delta and gamma tocotrienols.
  2. Seed Preparation: The seeds are cleaned and sometimes dried to prepare them for extraction. This step might include removing impurities and other parts of the fruit.
  3. Solvent Extraction:
    • Solvent Selection: A solvent is chosen for the extraction process. Typically, food-grade solvents like hexane, ethanol, or supercritical carbon dioxide are used. The choice of solvent affects the efficiency and the purity of the extracted tocotrienols.
    • Extraction Process: The seeds are soaked or mixed with the solvent, which dissolves the tocotrienols along with other oil-soluble components. This mixture is then processed to separate the liquid (containing the tocotrienols) from the solid seed residues.
  4. Concentration and Purification:
    • Evaporation: The solvent is evaporated, usually under reduced pressure to prevent the degradation of tocotrienols due to high temperatures. This step concentrates the extract.
    • Purification: Additional purification steps, such as column chromatography, may be employed to further purify the extract and isolate the tocotrienols. This process removes other components like bixin, which is another compound found in Annatto seeds.
  5. Testing and Standardization:
    • After extraction, the product is tested for purity, potency, and quality. This ensures that the tocotrienol extract meets specific standards and contains a consistent concentration of active ingredients.
    • The extract is standardized to ensure a specific ratio of delta and gamma tocotrienols, as these are the primary forms of vitamin E present in Annatto seeds.
  6. Formulation:
    • The pure tocotrienol extract is then formulated into supplements. This could involve mixing with a carrier oil, encapsulating in soft gels, or creating a powdered form for tablets or capsules.
  7. Quality Control and Packaging: Before packaging, the supplements undergo quality control tests to ensure they meet safety and efficacy standards. The final product is then packaged and labeled for distribution.

This extraction process is meticulously controlled to ensure the highest quality of the Vitamin E supplement. The methods and solvents used in the extraction and purification stages are chosen to maximize the yield and purity of tocotrienols while maintaining the integrity of their beneficial properties.

Frederik Lamote

Frederik is the founder of, a startup that is 3D printing Treehouses. While exploring treehouse locations around the world he got fascinated by the value and products trees produce.

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