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Sesamin

Sesamin is a lignan derived from sesame seeds (Sesamum indicum) that appears to inhibit vitamin E metabolism, which causes a relative increase in circulating levels of γ-tocopherol and γ-tocotrienol; it shows most promise in augmenting the efficacy of vitamin E supplements.

Our evidence-based analysis on sesamin features 152 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Sesamin

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Sesamin is the most prominent lignan compound found in sesame seeds, one of the two highest sources of lignans in the human diet (the other being flax). Sesamin is catered to be a nutritional supplement that confers antioxidant and antiinflammatory effects (if touting its health properties) or possibly being an estrogen receptor modulator and fat burner (if targeting atheltes or persons wishing to lose weight).

Sesamin has a few mechanisms, and when looking at it holistically it can be summed up as a fatty acid metabolism modifier. It appears to inhibit an enzyme known as delta-5-desaturase (Δ5-desaturase) which is a rate-limiting enzyme in fatty acid metabolism; inhibiting this enzyme results in lower levels of both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, one of the two fish oil fatty acids) as well as arachidonic acid, and this mechanism appears to be relevant following oral ingestion. The other main mechanism is inhibiting a process known as Tocopherol-ω-hydroxylation, which is the rate limiting step in the metabolism of Vitamin E; by inhibiting this enzyme, sesamin causes a relative increase of vitamin E in the body but particularly those of the gamma subset (γ-tocopherol and γ-tocotrienol) and this mechanism has also been confirmed to be active following oral ingestion.

There are some other mechanisms in place which seem promising (protection against Parkinson's Disease as well as promotion of bone mass) but most of the mechanisms including estrogen receptor modulation, fat burning from the liver, and activation of the antioxidant response element (ARE) have not been confirmed in humans and have their reasons to suspect that they do not occur; this includes either a concentration that is too high to matter for oral supplementation, or in the case of fat burning it being a process that seems to be exclusive to rats.

In the end, sesamin serves a pretty interesting role as having the potential to augment γ-tocopherol and γ-tocotrienol metabolism by preventing their degradation; increasing the levels of these vitamin E vitamers has a lot of therapeutic benefits in and of itself, and since they are quite expensive to purchase as supplements then sesamin could be a cheap workaround or something used to 'cut' the vitamin E.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

There are limited human studies on sesamin, but it appears that oral ingestion of around 100-150mg of sesamin is sufficient to raise bodily sesamin stores to the level where it can preserve Vitamin E in the body; this indirect antioxidative effect may be the most practical reason to supplement sesamin.

If using sesame seeds to get your sesamin from, human studies have used 50-75g of sesame seeds with some success and rat studies tend to use 100-fold the oral dose of sesame seeds relative to sesamin (which would make the aforemented dose of 100-150mg as minimum being 10-15g of sesame seeds).

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Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine Plus members

The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Sesamin has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine Plus members.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-c Minor - See study
A small decrease in blood pressure has been noted with sesamin supplementation

Studies Excluded from Consideration

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Things to Note

Do Not Confuse With

Sesame Seeds, Sesame Oil

Goes Well With

  • Vitamin E (prevents its degradation, and increases the tissue and blood levels of γ-tocopherol and γ-tocotrienol mostly)

  • Vitamin K (may also increase bodily retention of K1 and MK-4)

  • Fish Oil (reduces possible lipid peroxidation and may increase serum concentrations of DHA)

Caution Notice

Known to interact with Drug Metabolizing enzymes

  • Sesamin may reduce the induction (prevent an increase) in the enzyme levels of CYP3A4

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Click here to see all 152 references.