Episode 16: Maximizing Memory Retention: The Power of CoQ10 and GG with Dr. Barrie Tan

Show Notes

Return podcast guest and Designs for Health Chief Science Officer Dr. Barrie Tan is back on the Conversations for Health podcast for a continuation of our conversation about Vitamin E and  Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). Together we discuss Dr. Tan’s invention of the combined CoQ10 and GG compound, key differences and similarities of ubiquinone and ubiquinol, and CoQ10 as a memory retention and agent that can counteract adverse effects of statin medications. Dr. Tan details his discovery of the benefits of the annatto plant and highlights the encouraging research findings regarding tocotrienol use in neurological health for those who are dedicated to improving the aging process.

I’m your host, Evelyne Lambrecht, thank you for designing a well world with us.

Episode Resources:

Dr. Barrie Tan

The Truth About Vitamin E: The Secret to Thriving with Annatto Tocotrienols

Design for Health Resources:

Designs for Health

Tocotrienols White Paper

Blog: Combination of Geranylgeraniol + Ubiquinol to Support Mitochondrial Function

Blog: CoQ10 Helps Promote Mitochondrial Function

Blog: Bisphosphonates and Bone Health: Is There a Role for Geranylgeraniol?

Blog: Vitamin E Tocotrienols, Metabolic Health, and Healthy Aging

Webinar: Lipid-Soluble Nutrients in Metabolic Syndrome: The Supportive Roles of Tocotrienols, Resveratrol, and Vitamin D

Presentation: Dr. Barrie Tan at CASI 2022: Annatto Tocotrienol & Geranylgeraniol

Visit the Designs for Health Research and Education Library which houses medical journals, protocols, webinars, and our blog.


[2:32] Dr. Barrie Tan details his invention of the combined CoQ10 and GG compound.

[5:13] Key differences and similarities of ubiquinone and ubiquinol.

[10:26] The dual benefits of both taking and making ubiquinol with GG to address a mitochondrial dysfunction energy deficit as we age.

[12:23] Identifying the functioning location of CoQ10 in particular cells.

[16:58] Dr. Tan explains his GG and CoQ10 recommendations for statin users.

[27:27] Dosing ranges for GG based on age, MK-4 levels and other health concerns.

[33:23] Future research possibilities on compound GG including body fat, energy transfers and body temperature regulation.

[38:36] Addressing concerns regarding tocopherols that are commonly found in food.

[41:35] The environmental impact of sourcing annatto plants.

[45:03] Dr. Tan reflects on his experience of finding the annatto plant.

[48:56] Research findings regarding tocotrienol use in neurological health.


Voiceover: Conversations for Health, dedicated to engaging discussions with industry experts, exploring evidence-based, cutting edge research, and practical tips. Our mission is to empower you with knowledge, debunk myths, and provide you with clinical insights. This podcast is provided as an educational resource for healthcare practitioners only. This podcast represents the views and opinions of the host and their guests, and does not represent the views or opinions of Designs for Health Inc. This podcast does not constitute medical advice. The statements contained in this podcast have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Now, let’s embark on a journey towards optimal wellbeing, one conversation at a time. Here’s your host, Evelyne Lambrecht.

Evelyne: Welcome to Conversations for Health. I’m your host, Evelyne Lambrecht, and I’m very excited to welcome back to the show today Dr. Barrie Tan. Hi, Barrie.

Barrie Tan: How are you? I’m glad to be on your show again.

Evelyne: Me too. We have so much to talk about. This is going to be part two. This follows our conversation from our second episode of Conversations for Health. Last time we talked about vitamin E tocotrienols, why they’re the preferred form of vitamin E over tocopherols. We also talked extensively about geranylgeraniol, or GG for short, and its importance in bone health, pain management, and so much more. I do recommend listening to that episode if you haven’t, and if you’re listening to this, did you know you can also watch the full video on YouTube as well as on our website, podcastdesignsforhealth.com? One of my practitioners told me she listened to the last episode three times and she can’t stop talking about tocotrienols with her patients, which is very exciting. We also have the full transcript of every show available at podcastdesignsforhealth.com. Dr. Barrie Tan’s research expertise is in vitamin E tocotrienols, in GG and in CoQ10, and he was the first to introduce the benefits of tocotrienols to the nutrition industry. He’s also the chief science officer at Designs for Health, and like I said last time, we are so lucky to have you. Today we’re going to talk more about coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10, and I understand that, Barrie, you actually invented this compound which combines CoQ10 and GG. Can you talk more about this?

Barrie Tan: Yes, I would love to do that. If you look at the CoQ10 molecule, let’s say it’s this long. In fact, since you asked the question right now, I’m going to come off-screen so that you can see the background. On the very back is a very long molecule of CoQ10, and in front is a shorter molecule of GG, and the entire tail of CoQ10 is actually constructed by the molecule of GG. The shorthand, GG constructs the whole tail of CoQ10. I’m going to stand back where hopefully you can still hear me. In the front here, where my hand is touching, that’s a GG molecule. If I take the GG molecule away, that’s the entire CoQ10 molecule, and CoQ10 is like an albatross. It’s very large and it’s hard to absorb, so everybody’s talking about the bioavailability, but we add CoQ10 to GG, you see that? You can see the tail of CoQ10 here is this, GG, so two and a half lengths of the GG is CoQ10. You mentioned about the invention. The invention is, we use CoQ10, the normal CoQ10, which is ubiquinone, and then we add in vitamin C, ascorbyl palmitate, and it happens to be a reducing agent. It reduces the ubiquinone, which is in the oxidized state. Sometimes people call CoQ10 ubiquinone as oxidized CoQ10. It is. Then we use the vitamin C, and the vitamin C converts the ubiquinone to ubiquinol in situ while we are doing this, so we thought that that’s a very good concept to do, and then we added into that GG, because GG is required for the making of CoQ10. When we combine all of this together, that’s what I market at DuoQuinol. The way to make ubiquinone to ubiquinol, plus GG. This product is not available until very recently.

Evelyne: I want to back up for a moment, and explain the differences to us between ubiquinone and ubiquinol, the oxidized versus reduced form, but also, they both have benefits. They both recycle into each other in the body, but does that conversion change as we get older? Is the bioavailability of ubiquinol really better? Can you talk about that?

Barrie Tan: Yeah, I can. That’s a very insightful question, and the audience of different degrees of understanding may appreciate this as well. Ubiquinone and ubiquinol is essentially the same molecule. One is in a reduced state and one is in the oxidized state, and other people will debate if it’s the same molecule or not, but I consider it the same as a chemist. When you say you take iron, so is the iron ferrous iron, which is a reduced state, or ferric iron, which is an oxidized state? At the end of the day, ferrous and ferric is iron, so CoQ10 is oxidized or reduced like that. In the body, the currency of converting energy, which is ATP, adenosine triphosphate, this is how our body understands to make energy, and it can only do that using ubiquinol. It cannot use ubiquinone to do this, so that’s that piece. Most people thought of, “Oh, then, the body uses ubiquinol, then ubiquinol would be the important … ” Yes, that is true. I call that, that ubiquinol is the activated form of CoQ10. That’s one piece.

Now, ubiquinol has two OH groups on top and bottom. Ubiquinone has a ketone group and a ketone group, so for our audience who are not chemists, a simplistic way to understand this would be, because alcohol group is more polar, therefore it is to be expected that ubiquinol is more bioabsorbed than ubiquinone, because it’s slightly more polar. That molecule behind me, as I indicated earlier, is already like an albatross. Anything that can help, and the OH group is here where my finger is pointing. That OH group, and this OH group here, and if these two OH groups is there, then it absorbs better. This statement I’m trying to make is, ubiquinol is a more bioavailable form of CoQ10. I made the second statement.

The third statement I’m going to make is, when the CoQ10 has two OH groups, it is actually an antioxidant. When it is two ketone groups, like ubiquinone, it is not an antioxidant. Doesn’t mean that it’s bad, it’s just not an antioxidant, so the third statement I’m going to make is, ubiquinol is an antioxidant form of CoQ10. Then, now, you had heard me say earlier, I combined CoQ10 with GG. I combined with GG because GG is used by the body to convert it to CoQ10, so when I add ubiquinol with GG, that is a biochemically relevant form of CoQ10, because you put in the GG that can help and assist the human body to make CoQ10. Right now, I know of no substances that make CoQ10 other than supplementing CoQ10, so this is biochemically relevant.

That’s the fourth statement, and the last statement that I’ll make, when we made this DuoQuinol, I still deem that it needs assistance for the ubiquinol to be absorbed. As a functional reason, we add in GG, and GG actually helps the ubiquinol to absorb better. We also add a natural ingredient called quillaja, and the quillaja is able to emulsify this ubiquinol, CoQ10, and absorb better, so that this DuoQuinol is made a more bioaccessible form of CoQ10. In the end, you can ask me again. I will actually, I might as well do that now. If you think it’s relevant, I’ll do that. See that? The audience can read this. You can read. I have mentioned each of those four or five things, so if you want that, I can send this to you. When we make our DuoQuinol, it has all of these five benefits that a normal CoQ10 and ubiquinol by itself does not have. That is the basis of the invention. Evelyne : This is great, and in essence what you’re saying is, when you’re taking ubiquinol with GG, you’re taking it and you’re making it, right?

Barrie Tan: Yes, it does two at the same time. You deliver the CoQ10 in the active form. Plus, as we grow older … I know you asked a question earlier. When we grow older, do we make less CoQ10? We do make less. Because CoQ10 is such a large molecule, it needs enzymes to make each of the GG piece, and then the GG piece is elongated, and then have to stitch onto the ring. Then, it has to have the DNA to make the whole molecule. It is well known, if the audience Googles mitochondrial dysfunction and energy deficit, they will find that a big part of this mitochondrial dysfunction is because they don’t make enough CoQ10, and therefore as we age, there’s a higher chance that we don’t make enough CoQ10, and even higher chance that the CoQ10 we make is not the ubiquinol form. It tends to be the ubiquinone form, which is not the activated form that the cell can use. By adding the GG, the GG allows it to make more CoQ10, and functionally, the GG helps to solubilize the CoQ10 and then it absorbs better. It was just a clever concept about assisting in the absorption and allowing the body to use the raw material, GG, to make CoQ10. Hopefully later on you may ask me, “Oh, I heard that a statin reduces CoQ10,” and then that piece connects. Yes, that is true, that connects directly with GG.

Evelyne: I will ask you about statins, but before I do, I have another question. You talked about how it functions in the body. Can you talk more about, where in the cells does CoQ10 work? Does it get into the mitochondria when we take supplemental CoQ10? Does it work in the cell membranes? Can you talk more about that?

Barrie Tan: Yes. If you think of a cell, a bean shape like my mouse here, so inside each cell, not all cells look like bean shape, but most cells do. Bean shape, and then surrounding the cell is a cell wall. I think of the cell wall as a gated community. It keeps it together, and inside it would be the nucleus. It makes you look half of your parents’ DNA, each, and then the mitochondria to produce energy, and CoQ10 is actually synthesized in another part inside the cell called endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. Usually we don’t talk about that much, but they have important functions. When they’re ready, the CoQ10 is transported into the mitochondria, because in the mitochondria is where the energy throughput is, to make ATP. It moves from the other organelles to the mitochondria, and usually the more the person exercises and athletic, there are more mitochondria and the mitochondria size is bigger, so it’s obvious, when we exercise more and we respirate more, than the mitochondria will be bigger.

Therein is the importance of CoQ10. Think of CoQ10 in your car. It’s really not the fuel. The fuel is the gas you put in your gas tank, and then the gas tank has to go all the way through that, and just before it gets to the engine to fire to make the ATP, to make the car move, there’s a tiny thing they call a spark plug that fires it. CoQ10 is a spark plug. If you don’t have the spark plug, it can’t fire properly, and then the energy is not produced, and therefore the engine is not going to fire its piston. CoQ10 does that, so CoQ10 is not an energy source by itself. Once you use the CoQ10 like that, when it produces ATP, the CoQ10 is ubiquinol. It already, in order to make ATP, the ubiquinol becomes ubiquinone, and the ubiquinone is not lost. If the ubiquinone is lost, we’ll probably live for 10 minutes and we all die. The ubiquinone have to recycle, like the way you said at the beginning, and it will go to a place and become ubiquinol again, and then do its job, and then the thing goes over and over again.

When we give people ubiquinol, we’re just assisting in the pathway so that they don’t have to burden to make a ubiquinol every single time. The GG piece is just raw material to make the CoQ10. That’s how I think of ubiquinol, works. That’s just particularly in the mitochondria, and if the audience wants to know what mitochondria, in what cells in the body, it’s actually in all the cells in the body, but particularly important in the cells where there are a lot of muscle, meaning the heart, therefore it has big implications in cardiovascular health and in the muscle. Therefore, if you exercise and walk or run, well, your muscles have to produce energy continuously, so therefore in the muscle and in the heart, and on average, a person has 40% of his or her weight as muscle. Therefore, mitochondria in the muscle is just about every part of your body, but particularly in the part that converts a lot of energy. Therefore, mitochondria in the cell, particularly in the cells that needs a lot of energy, and dark meat, dark muscle, any part of your body that looks dark, which means the liver, the heart, and the muscle.

Evelyne: Okay, so you brought up the statins, and last time we touched on this. Why is it that you recommend that when someone is on a statin that they should … Well, most cardiologists do recommend CoQ10. We know that now, but why the GG piece with the CoQ10?

Barrie Tan: That, I can think of it illustrated in this way. The most traveled highway, Interstate, in the US is Interstate 95, all the way from Maine to Florida, like that. The body makes two carbons at a time. Let’s say you use this metaphor of the Interstate 95. The two carbons it made is in Boston, I’m just saying in Boston, or even make it simpler. It’s in Portland, Maine, in Maine. Then when it gets to Boston, it makes five carbons at a time, and when you take a statin drug, it inhibits at the five carbon. That means it inhibits at the Boston area. Then, when you get to New York City, that’s when the body begin to make 15 carbons. The body makes five carbons at a time. Only in Portland, Maine, it makes two carbon. In Boston’s, you already make five carbons, and that’s where the statin works. It inhibits the five carbons, so you can’t make it. Then, if you don’t inhibit it, then when you get to New York City, it’s 15 carbons. At the 15 carbon piece in New York City, and then they begin to branch sideways. That’s when they begin to cyclize and make other things, and eventually it makes cholesterol.

If you now go back, when they came up with the drug of statin to inhibit at C5, at Boston, then at C15 in New York City, then a segue to make cholesterol, cholesterol drops. That was the original cleverness of using statin to inhibit the cholesterol synthesis. All good. Right now, I just told you the picture of how statin works, so now let’s say this is New York City, at 15 carbon, and then you get to Washington DC. This is still all on the Interstate 95, and Washington DC is 20 carbons, five carbons more than in Boston. That 20 carbon, biochemists called that chemical geranylgeraniol, GG. Just keep this in mind, this is biochemistry. It has nothing to do with me pushing anything to take GG. Your body makes GG. That is where C20 is. Then, if you segue from that C20 on the side way, remember, we have the highway and the byway. When you segue this way, it makes two molecules. Listen to this very carefully. Your body’s not going to change. This is how your body does it. It has nothing to do with me.

You segue. That entire C20 GG claps on, sticks onto the ring of vitamin K. We eat green leafy vegetables, vitamin K, K1, phylloquinone, to help us to have no clots, to help us to clot in the body. If you have tears in seal, that’s phylloquinone, one small bit of it. Most of the phylloquinone comes into the body, looks for a GG molecule, stitches onto it, and that is MK4. Ladies and gentlemen, I just explained to you how our body makes menaquinone four, and menaquinone four has all the implication in our body for bone health. You can ask me that if you want, now, but let me finish this. This GG 20 carbon makes MK4, and then it continues to elongate the GG molecule, and eventually it get to 10 isoprene units, 10 units of five, so it’s 50 carbons long, and that’s behind me. You see that, the CoQ10 molecule? It goes through my entire back to here, on the GG, and then it makes CoQ10 at the GG level.

Now, you go back to originally what I told you. If you have statins that inhibit it in Boston, but inhibit so well so that in New York City the cholesterol drops … People know if you take a statin drug, typically the cholesterol drops 40, 50%, so you stifle, you block the road so tight in Boston that in New York City, it cannot make cholesterol correct, but people stop there. They forget that if you stop the traffic so severely in Boston, it knocks off also severely New York City, but it also constricts it even in Washington DC. This is why for a long time, people and doctors know that when you take a statin drug, CoQ10 drops, so CoQ10 drop is because when GG segues, CoQ10 cannot be made, but surprisingly, you should know MK4 is also not making, and therefore they don’t have enough MK4 for the bone. If you Google in the literature, those that take a large amount of statin, they also have thinning of the bone, like that, but more dramatically it’s because of the CoQ10 drop.

You asked the question, how does this connect to GG? Actually, CoQ10 drops when people take statin. It’s actually a bystander. The real reason CoQ10 drops is because GG drops. When you inhibit here, the C15 drops, that make cholesterol, the C20 drops like mad, that make CoQ10. CoQ10 drops because the raw material that makes CoQ10 is decimated by the statin. That information is new. People did not talk about this, Evelyne, because there are no GG available. Happily, in American River Nutrition, we discovered this GG merely five years ago, and several companies use it. This is a real blessing, because GG is an endogenous nutrient. It’s a nutrient our body makes. It makes it to make MK4 that protects the bone, that removes calcification from the artery. Many other things. This too is good now, on the MK4 piece, and CoQ10, we need CoQ10 just to have energy, and then that piece, that needs that. Then, furthermore, GG, I know I said it the last time, but this is just a refresh. GG is needed in our body to make skeletal muscle protein.

I mean, is that important? Our body needs skeletal muscle. If we don’t, as we age, we have sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass. Not a good thing. If you have elderly parents and grandparents, they cannot just slowly sit down on a chair. Once they’re able to bend down, they almost slump into the chair. It’s because their trunk muscle is not strong enough to let them slowly sit down, so as we grow old, we have to get off our laurels and do resistive exercise so that we can have enough strength, and GG will help in retaining muscle mass loss. Now that I mentioned this, I’m going to go back to statins again. Many alternative doctors care. When you take statin drugs, they ask them to take CoQ10, and you and I know the reason now, but the traditional medical doctors may not care about CoQ10. The traditional doctors will care, when they give statin drugs. They always ask, when you come back, “Do you have any back pain, any muscle pain?” They always ask that. They ask that because when people take statin drugs, they oftentimes have a problem that doctors call myopathy.

Myo just means muscle, pathy means something wrong with the muscle, and why did they have something wrong with the muscle, Evelyne? There’s something wrong with the muscle because GG is required for the synthesis of skeletal muscle protein. That’s it. Right now I explained yet another powerful piece, why GG is needed, not only for CoQ10, but also directly for the muscle. Anyway, I’ll pass it back on to you. It took a little longer for me to explain it, but I think this is important, so people appreciate. It is almost ironic. If statin is never invented, I may have a hard time talking about the value of GG. Now that you appreciate the value of GG, because of the decimation by statin, statin simply decimates GG, and therefore you see all these side effects, manifestation. You know something? If there is no statin drug, GG is still there, quietly making CoQ10. GG is still there quietly making skeletal muscle protein, so that we don’t have loss of energy and we don’t have loss of muscle mass as we get old. Do not only think that when you take a statin drug, therefore you take GG and CoQ10. You should consider supplementing GG because as we age, we don’t make enough GG to make muscle and we don’t make enough GG to make CoQ10, both of them combined.

Evelyne: Thank you so much, Barrie, for expanding on that From our last conversation. I have a follow-up question, which we didn’t get into last time. We talked a little bit about dosing for tocotrienols, but we didn’t really talk about dosing for GG. Based on the research that you’ve done and the research that you’ve seen in the studies based on different applications, whether we’re looking at preventing muscle loss or looking at how much we need in addition to CoQ10, if somebody is on a statin, what are some of the dose ranges that are used?

Barrie Tan: I will answer it in a reverse manner. It’ll be 150 minimum, and the normal will be 300 milligrams per day. They’re in a tiny soft gel, and like tocotrienol and like CoQ10, they’re lipid soluble, so when you take that, just remember to take it with a meal, so you have emulsification in your stomach when it churns, and when it gets to your small intestine, your body will produce bile salt, which is a natural detergent, and then you have lipase enzyme from the pancreas and it’ll break down the fat. All of this empowers the lipid nutrient to absorb better, all good. The empty stomach, it doesn’t do quite like this, and then the absorption will be much poorer, like that.

Having said that, I’ll answer it several ways. We have a clinical study in Texas now, and let me tell you simplistically what the study has done. We randomized people who have high cholesterol that take statin, and they have confirmed myopathy. They take statin drug and they have muscle aches and muscle problems, for the reason I explained earlier. Then, they have them slowly walk on a medicated treadmill, and then to see how long they can walk before they can experience the pain. One group will be taking a statin drug and doing that, and the other group will be the same, they’re randomized exactly the same. They’re taking the statin drug, doing the same, and one group takes 150 milligrams. The other group takes 300 milligrams, and the placebo group is just taking the statin with nothing else. From there, so we designed the experiment at 150 and 300 milligrams because we based it on animal study. Therefore, I would expect in people who are taking a statin drug, perhaps 300 milligrams is advisable. 150 is fine, if you don’t experience any pain like that, and if somebody has a calcification score on the artery, then they may consider taking 300 milligrams, or have kidney stones, also consider taking the high end.

Now, why did I mention this? Remember how I said earlier, if you have high enough GG in your body, your body makes MK4, and MK4 is well known. You can memorize it. MK4 is well known. It sweeps the calcium in your body into your bone. Hence, it makes strong bone, but it will not litter the calcium in the artery to have arteriosclerosis, and neither in the kidney to have kidney stones, in the gall to have gallstones. Very simple, so like that. If you have the adequate amount of GG, then the MK4 will be appropriately made and then will make strong bone, so it’s that piece there. Then, so if you have that kind of a concern, then maybe 300 milligrams would be appropriate, like that.

I personally, this is on the personal side, I take 150 milligrams, because I’ve been taking statin drugs, because my cholesterol is exceedingly high, to manage it. I do not have experience, myopathy symptoms, so I still take 150 milligrams so that my muscle is well-protected, and my CoQ10 level. I’ve measured my CoQ10 level several times. It is quite high. Of course, I take CoQ10 as well, so that’s on the personal side. The clinical study, I told you the dosage, and then from the vast number of animal studies, most of the animal studies, if you translate to human doses, they’re typically 150 to 300 milligrams. In one clinical study, we designed in hypogonadistic men, which means they’re men that have low testosterone, and at the 300 milligram level, they noticed that their unbound testosterone increased higher. GG is known to increase testosterone, particularly for people who have low testosterone, and that may assist, and we saw that particularly in the 300 milligram group. Therefore, if you don’t have any overt condition, 150 milligrams would be good enough, and otherwise, 300 milligrams would work for those that have a mild condition of this or that.

Hopefully I can answer your dosage question in part. When a clinical study comes out, Evelyne, then I can say a little bit more definitively. In the tocotrienol, I was able to say very clearly, everybody should be taking 300 milligrams, and 600 milligrams for people who have chronic conditions, such as our study indicated, from pre-diabetes, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, like that. This sort of studies with GG is in the works. It’s not yet finished.

Evelyne: What is some future research you’d like to do on GG?

Barrie Tan: In the future research? That’s a brilliant question. I wanted to do additional study. When people take a supplement or an ingredient, they usually just go to the liver, and the liver metabolizes it, and then the liver sends it out and delivers to different parts of the organ. That’s normally how the body does things. The central depot, shall we say, is the liver. It goes there, metabolizes, and then go to different organs. MK4 is not done that way. The way MK4 is done is, when the GG converts to MK4, the MK4 conversion, they call it extra-hepatic, which means that the GG would go to all the 20, 30 different organs, and in the organ itself, it makes MK4. Now, we cannot do a human study on this because you cannot have biopsies of people’s lung and heart. It’s not allowed, so I’m hoping to prove this, that when I give animals GG, I will look for MK4 and I’ll look for CoQ10 in 20 to 25 different organs. If I can show that and nail that, then for the first time, when people take GG, you know that in your different parts of your organs, you have in situ delivery of MK4 and CoQ10, which is where it’s supposed to be in the first place.

I’m hoping to do that study in the next year or two, and then I’m hoping to do some studies with GG in … I recently read and discovered, but I’m trying to think in my mind. Winter is coming, if you live in a cold area, and we have a coldness on the extremity of our hands and feet. Our body is supposed to, thermal regulation like that, because we are warm-blooded, and that thermal regulation is because, when it gets cold, it constricts the blood vessels and the warm blood goes to the skin and warms our skin. You cannot make it happen. Your body automatically does it, and when your body is unable to do that, then you become cold on your extremities. When the body does that, another thing is happening, and this, I know some people consider this very cool and very sexy. I’m just explaining the story. We have white body fat and we have brown body fat. The white body fat is a storage depot for fat, and the brown body fat are burning fat. They have lots of mitochondria and produce energy, so when you need warm energy, it carries the warm blood to your skin and elsewhere like that. They found out in studies in animals that the transfer of heat from the white to the brown body fat and to the skin so that they won’t have cold intolerance is because of the compound GG.

I would never have guessed that, so GG is responsible to help in the balancing of temperature in your body. Otherwise, we would have cold intolerance, so that’s a very subtle thing, like that, and I noticed that in different conditions, people who have immune disorders, I’ve heard that people who have COVID also have cold intolerance. I’m not making any of this claim. I’m just saying that I would like to do a study to show, when animals have GG, they’re able to handle the cold intolerance and balance of the temperature, to keep it at the body temperature. Those are the two things I wish to pursue, to find that MK4 and CoQ10 is found in all the different tissue, and to have GG able to prevent people from cold intolerance. The second one is not a life and death one, but if it can do that, wow. This tiny molecule our body makes can do a simple job like that, as to keep our muscle together and all these other things that I talked about, or increase the testosterone, but that piece is not yet done, so I’m hoping to engage in that piece in the next year or two.

Evelyne: This is very exciting, Barrie, and I love your enthusiasm about all this and your passion, and I can do an N of one study because I definitely get cold hands and feet, so I can try taking GG and see what happens this winter.

Barrie Tan: Yes, yes, yes.

Evelyne: I want to switch gears a little bit to a few questions that I didn’t get to ask you about tocotrienols last time. You mentioned with the GG that you want to take it with food, and tocotrienols are also best taken with food, since it is a fat soluble nutrient. Yet, one of the reasons or the main reason why to choose tocotrienols over tocopherols is that the alpha-tocopherol can inhibit some of the other tocopherols or the tocotrienols. However, we can get some tocopherol in our food, right? Can you explain that a little bit?

Barrie Tan: Yeah, the concern expressed there, which I’ve heard other people bring it up from time to time. How can I avoid tocopherol when it’s commonly found in food? A great question, and it should be asked because concern on these are raised from time to time. The USDA and the American Food website said that when we take our normal foods and vegetables, and vegetable oil, like that, we typically will consume approximately 10 to 15 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol and at 10 to 15 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol a day, it does not interfere with tocotrienol function. I’ll come to that in a moment, and plus, the 10 to 15 milligrams a day would be fine, like that. Say, alpha-tocopherol will begin to interfere when it is about 30% of the total vitamin E. For example, if you, roughly speaking, take … You consume 100 milligrams of vitamin E, for which you have 30 milligrams alpha-tocopherol, then the alpha-tocopherol composition to the whole thing is 30%. Then that 30% would interfere like that, but the amount of alpha tocopherol we typically take maximally is 15 milligrams, not 30 milligrams.

I’m recommending people to take about 300 milligram, so 15 out of 300 is … 30 out of 300 is 10%, so 15 out of 300 is seven and a half percent. Seven and a half certainly is significantly lower than 30%, so therefore it would not interfere. If you were to eat your normal food with vegetable oil that would have X, Y, and Z amount of alpha-tocopherol, typically 10 to 15 milligrams, that amount would not interfere, so there’s no reason for you to be afraid that that would interfere with the tocotrienol functions.

Evelyne: Great, thank you. Another question I’ve seen come up here or there is, what about the environmental impact of something like this? Do annatto plants just grow everywhere? Can you talk about the sourcing a little bit more?

Barrie Tan: The sourcing? Yeah, we get most of our annatto, and I don’t have a … Yeah, I have a beautiful picture here of the annatto, I always like to show people. It’s referred to as the lipstick plant, because if you touch it, it’ll stain your finger. Then, that color is called Bixa, and Bixa is used as annatto color in all your cheese-making, that orange-y, yellowish hue, or macaroni and cheese, that color. They’re from this keratin. If you remove the keratin, that’s where the tocotrienol is. We got this mostly from South America, throughout Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and other places as well. They are usually produced by artisan farmers. They may have about 10 to 20 acres, so it’s not mass plantation such as one would see for rubber or for coffee. Annatto is simply not grown like that. I don’t want to say we work with every artisan farmer, it’s not true, that, either, but people who get the annatto get from these artisan farmers, and then they process the annatto. We don’t directly buy the seeds, so we buy it from the people who collect them. They extract the annatto color out, and so the oil that they have, we work with them to clean up the oil, and when it come to us, we continue to purify to high quality tocotrienol, which is our Delta Gold, And then GG, which is our GG Gold, I like that, for different applications.

I don’t know if I answer your question. Apart from that, we don’t see any environmental factor as in El Nino, El Nina, or climate change that affects the sourcing, because the amount of annatto that is grown in the world is a fraction of how people would grow coffee or palm oil or rubber, by a long shot, because the amount used is much, much smaller, and usually they’re by small farmers. When you take such product, indirectly it’ll benefit many of these small farmers out there, mostly in South America.

Evelyne: I think that’s great. I think one of the concerns maybe with palm oil is deforestation, and so that’s not happening with annatto plants. Forests are not being cleared to plant annatto, right?

Barrie Tan: Yeah, no, for sure. If that is a concern, then the amount of annatto, if you just Google, sometimes you barely can find them. They’re usually small a shareholder, crop-holder, that owns the land to do that. No large plantation that I’m aware of, and I’ve been to South America to visit a lot. I think for us, it is almost like a rare find. I frequently sometimes tell my story, like that. There are 50 million chemicals on earth. Most of it are from plants, and plants make a lot of phyto-nutrients. To find this annatto from the plant diversity is almost like a gift from God. It’s almost like a spiritual experience for me, and I’m not even a medicine man, where they would just beat the bush and figure out things, out there. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time, stumbled on this, asked the right question, and it would have been enough if I had discovered the tocotrienol, and that would be a huge blessing.

I know this is not the time to say that. It is the only source of vitamin E that is free of to tocopherol. I don’t deserve this. It’s from the plant. “Doctor Tan, how do you make this thing to tocopherol free?” No, I didn’t make it tocopherol free. The plant makes it tocopherol free, so I don’t deserve it, but that would happen, enough my friend would say, my son would say, but then when I did this, then at the end when I extracted the vitamin E, tocotrienol, I further find some light yellowish, brownish oil, and curiosity, it didn’t kill the cat, but curiosity had the better of me. Then I found out that, “Oh, this is geranylgeraniol, GG. What is this compound?” Then I started to read biochemistry textbooks, and then I found out, “Oh my goodness, this GG is a big deal thing. This is a quiet molecule in the body.”

If people ask me, right, did I intentionally do tocotrienol? Now I’m making a pitch. Do I intentionally do tocotrienol and intentionally do GG to make a whole bundle of money? Absolutely not. I’m doing this because I’m a scientist. I’m figuring things out. I’m just lucky that somebody up there sees it fit to allow me to discover this. When I did, then I said, “Well, then this is supposed to be shared to other people, would benefit them,” so I’m just doing this. The tocotrienol is 30 years of my life. GG is newer, and of course, this ubiquinol that I say, DuoQuinol, is more recent of them all. After 40 years of doing it, I’ve only three things. How can I be cashing to the bank fast? Three things in 40 years. Actually, I am working on something but I cannot talk about it now, so next year you’re going to interview me on something I’m working on, and with that, I think it’s time for me possibly to retire. That will be my full 40 years.

Evelyne: Oh my goodness.

Barrie Tan: I have four things, then I’ll be … Right now, all these are beautiful things, tocotrienol, GG, and then this ubiquinol, CoQ10. When the fourth thing comes, I will lay it out there, and then after that, there are other sharper minds, brighter men and women out there. They probably can do other things. Unless I’m not bored, and I’ll stick around a little bit longer, but otherwise I think I made my contribution. Perhaps other people, like yourself and other people, can do better and stronger work in this.

Evelyne: Well, what a fateful day that was, when you discovered or when you saw that annatto plant that day when you were looking for the marigold, and what a legacy that you’ve left and continue to leave. It’s really impressive. I just have one more question for you. One area that we didn’t talk about last time in regards to tocotrienols was on neurological health. Can you talk about some of the research where tocotrienols have been used specifically for brain health, for neurological health?

Barrie Tan: Yes. Probably the most compelling study. There are several animal studies that the tocotrienol can help the plasticity of the neuron. Remember earlier on, I said most cells look like a bean shape? Not the neuron, not the nerve cell. The nerve cell in the brain, it looks like a tree, looks like a long thing and then looks like a canopy of a tree. The long thing is like a receptor, and a scientist called this nerve cell plasticity, so that it can grow. Tocotrienol has been connected to neuroplasticity, of the growth of the neuron cell. It’s a very important area. People are studying this because of Alzheimer’s disease, when they cannot see the neuron cell being plasticized, being easy enough to grow itself. There’s that piece, and tocotrienol has also been shown to protect the neuron from oxidation, because the entire length of the neuron thing is a sheath, is something to unwrap it, and that thing that unwraps the sheath of the neuron is actually DHA. DHA is good to be there, that is in the brain, but DHA, as you know, is very easily oxidizable. Just think fish oil, it’s oxidizable, and the tocotrienol is able to protect the oxidation of the sheath, so there’s another application.

Then, another one that I heard people study is, it also helps the whole animal to increase its memory, like that. Of course, that would be important for loss of memory, not necessarily just Alzheimer’s disease, the loss of memory, to help the animal to increase their memory. Then there was a study in Europe a few years back where people who have … The elderly who have normal memory, their blood has the higher amount of vitamin E, including tocotrienol, the mild dementia and have lower amount, and for the ones that have Alzheimer’s disease, have the lowest amount of vitamin E, so there’s a correlation that the dementia degree is proportional to the amount of vitamin E tocotrienol. That’s that piece, but there’s no direct clinical study that I know of. I would say, if a person does not have any chronic condition that requires you to take 300 milligrams of tocotrienol, please consider taking 150 milligrams of tocotrienol. There are many companies out there, sell this. Design for Health sell the 150 milligram tocotrienol. If you take that minimally, that would be to protect your cell wall from oxidative damage.

See, just like that, just simple biochemistry, so that the cell is able to maintain the gated community. Before you go, I wanted to say this. I know you asked me about the tocotrienol, so I answered that piece. Probably you may not know about this, Evelyne. GG is directly implicated to improve and increase memory. Now that I got your attention, I’ll take one minute to explain. GG is required to make MK4. I already said it earlier, and the only vitamin K in the brain is MK4. There is no phylloquinone in the brain, no MK7 in the brain, and the only vitamin K in the brain is MK4, and there are two clinical studies. The two most dramatic ones was, they looked at the elderly, and the ones that have normal … Just like the vitamin E study, the ones that have the normal memory have the highest MK4 in the blood, and the ones intermediate have lower MK4, and the ones, the Alzheimer’s, have the lowest. That’s one study.

Another study, they looked at centenarians who have passed away, that have donated their brain for research. They have small tissue of the cadaver’s brain, and they found out that, again, the same statement I made to you. For the ones that have normal memory, highest MK4, there are no other vitamin K. The ones that have mild dementia have, in the brain, not in the blood, and then the ones that have Alzheimer’s have the lowest MK4. I just explained to you that, and MK4 directly comes from GG, to synthesize it. Therefore, if we don’t have enough GG, we simply will not be able to make enough MK4. If I want to have continued good memory, I would personally consider taking GG, which I take 150 milligrams a day, and tocotrienol, for me, I take 300 milligrams a day, and I find that exceedingly helpful, to do that. There you have it, a long way to answer your memory retention as I grow older. Would you believe it, Evelyne? I’ll be 70 years old next month.

Evelyne: That’s amazing.

Barrie Tan: I’m very grateful I have got a brain that continues to be very active and I’m physically active. Hopefully, God willing, I will be able to live a long, long life and productive life. Thank you so much.

Evelyne: Thank you. Happy early birthday, and last time when we were talking about skin health, I said, “Okay, I definitely need to take my tocotrienols every single day,” and I think all of us obviously care about healthy aging, right, and so much of that is our bone health, it’s our skeletal health, it’s our cognitive health. Skin health I think is related to that too, but all of these parts of healthy aging. It just shows to me that I really need to be on top of it, and so I am going to add that GG to my tocotrienols, so thank you.

Barrie Tan: Thank you.

Evelyne: Yeah. Thank you so much for coming back to the show today, for sharing your expertise and your passion with us, and thank you for tuning into Conversations for Health. Check out the show notes for resources from today’s show. Please share this podcast with your colleagues. Follow, rate, leave a review wherever you listen, and thank you for designing a well world with us.

Voiceover: This is Conversations for Health with Evelyne Lambrecht, dedicated to engaging discussions with industry experts exploring evidence-based, cutting edge research and practical tips.

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