Octacosanol is a chemical compound with a long straight aliphatic chain of 28 carbons. Its chemical composition is similar to vitamin E. It exists as a primary alcohol that is highly saturated. It is the main active ingredient of wheat germ oil.
It appears as a waxy or oily substance in a variety of plants including wheat germ, sugarcane wax, spinach, eucalyptus tree, forage and acacia. There is evidence that the compound has been used by athletes since the 1930’s. It was believed that Octacosanol improves the performance of athletes.
Since the 1950’s, scientists have been studying the benefits of Octacosanol. Researchers showed that the compound helps athletes improve their performance. Currently, the product is utilised for various purposes.
Nutritional Benefits — Several studies provide evidence that Octacosanol contains vitamins B, E, and Omega-6 fatty acids. The Journal of Nutrition in 2003 confirms that Octacosanol contains up to 47% vitamins E and B. Another study in the Journal of Medicine and Food confirms that Octacosanol is rich in essential fatty acids, linoleic acid, calcium and iron. These properties make this compound an effective dietary supplement.
Improves Physical Endurance — In the year 2003, the Journal of Medicine and Food published a study to show that Octacosanol improves physical endurance especially in athletes. The compound works by stimulating nerve impulses thus availing oxygen to the muscles. It also reduces cholesterol in the body thus making the heart stronger. This also improves physical endurance. The Journal of Applied Physiology also published a study that confirmed that around 1500mg of Octacosanol per day improves physical exercise.
Antioxidant Properties — The high level of vitamin E means that Octacosanol can attach to all the free radicals in the body. The Journal of Neurology presented a study in the year 2000 showing that small doses of 20mg twice daily has antioxidant properties. This protects the body tissues and genetic materials from harm.
Treatment of Osteoporosis — Several shreds of evidence prove that Octacosanol is useful in the treatment of osteoporosis. The Journal of Food and Medicine provides evidence from research that the compound works by reducing the levels of calcium in the blood. The compound also harvests calcium from bone tissue when it is required.
Octacosanol is sold as liquid and capsules. For nutritional purposes, the recommended dosage is a single dose of 500- 1500mg daily with meals. People suffering from osteoporosis can take between 600- 1000mg as two doses daily. To improve physical endurance, 1000mg of the substance is sufficient. Only 10-20mg are required for the purpose of reducing cholesterol. Low dosages of less than 10mg are active as antioxidants.
Octacosanol Side Effects
University of Michigan researchers found that allergic reactions may occur due to toxicity. Toxicity may occur due to overdosage. Taking more that 2000mg of the substance may cause allergic reactions. These include itching, non-rotational dizziness, skin breakouts and vomiting. Side effects are averted by taking the recommended dosage.
So far, Octacosanol is contraindicated in individuals who have Parkinson’s syndrome using the drug Levodopa or Carbidopa. The Pharmaceutical Journal presents a study that shows that Octacosanol is likely to produce toxic effects as it reacts with these drugs. The compound also reacts with blood thinning drugs and it should be avoided in such instances. There is also minimal evidence of safety in lactating and expectant mothers. In addition to this, drugs should not be taken on empty meals or with alcohol. This affects the way they react with the body.
- Nutrition: Octacosanol in human health.
- Journal of Medicine and Food: Octacosanol supplementation increases running endurance time and improves biochemical parameters after exhaustion in trained rats.
- Pharmaceutical Journal: Nutraceuticals: (3) Octacosanol.
- Neurology Journal: Trial of Octacosanol in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
- Journal of Applied Physiology: Effect of Octacosanol, wheat germ oil, and vitamin E on performance of swimming rats.