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Benefits of using wheat germ oil

This Week In The HSI Forum

“Does anyone have any experience or knowledge on the use of wheat germ oil?”

This question is posed by an HSI member named Neal, on a thread he titles “Wheat germ oil.” Neal goes on: “I have been taking it for lower back pain and it is the only thing that works with the exception of Mega doses of Vitamin E. I have been told that it turns rancid and will make me sick and that I shouldn’t be taking it.”

Whoever is informing Neal isn’t telling him the whole story. Wheat germ oil is a nutritious and beneficial supplement, but somewhat sensitive. It can degrade quickly if not stored well, so temperature extremes should be avoided.

A member named Rosie comes to Neal’s aid, stating that all oils have the capacity to turn rancid. And when they do, they produce free radicals. Rosie adds: “However, all you have to do is keep it refrigerated to prevent rancidity. Another good oil to use is rice bran oil. I like it better than wheat germ oil, or flax oil, it tastes much better. Like wheat germ oil it is rich in Vitamin E, including the tocotrienols and is a much cheaper source of tocotrienols than buying them alone. Also high in omega fatty acids.”

Rosie’s correct. But there’s a drawback to both rice bran oil and wheat germ oil: the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 isn’t favorable – there’s more 6 than 3. Nevertheless, both oils provide an excellent source of vitamin E. We first told members about the benefits of rice bran oil with this comment in the December 1997 HSI Members Alert:

“All vitamin E is not created equal. The most common form (alpha-tocopherol) is actually one of the least effective. Much more powerful are tocotrienols, relative newcomers on the nutrition scene that you may have read about already. More powerful still is a newly-discovered tocotrienol, called di-desmethyl-tocotrienol, or P25. Obtained through a special molecular distillation of rice bran oil, P25 toco-trienols are not only far superior to the vitamin E you’re probably taking, but they might even replace your cholesterol-lowering drugs as well.

“Tocotrienols have a slightly different molecular structure than the alpha-tocopherol form of vitamin E, making them far more potent. As antioxidants, they’re up to 60 times more effective in protecting your cells from oxidative damage. But unlike alpha-tocopherol, tocotrienols can also reduce platelet clumping and lower cholesterol. No other vitamin or drug available today can significantly reduce all three of these major cardiac risk-factors.”

In addition, studies have shown that tocotrienols have exceptional anti-inflammatory properties, which may be the reason Neal found relief from his lower back pain.

Neal has one more important question: “I found several sources for rice bran oil but none were labeled organic or cold-processed. Does it make a difference?”

Absolutely. If it’s genuinely organic, then the rice source for the oil has been grown without (or with very little) synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. And cold pressing just means that it’s been processed with methods that produce no heat or friction. As a result, fewer nutrients (including antioxidants) are destroyed during processing.

If you have more to add to the comparison of wheat germ oil and rice bran oil, open the “Wheat germ oil” thread on the Forum and add your two cents.

Other topics on the HSI Forum this week include:

  • Painful joints
  • Best form of Vit A and Zinc?
  • Sleep apnea
  • Thinning hair
  • Testosterone and diabetes
  • Sweeteners

To reach the HSI Forum, just go to our web site at, click on “Forum,” and browse through the wide range of topics concerning health care and nutrition.