Sesame lignans and vitamin E alleviate fatigue in daily life

Research shows that a combination of sesame lignans and Vitamin E aids in reduction of fatigue.

Chronic fatigue is a feeling of prolonged fatigue and continuous tiredness, despite adequate rest in the absence of an underlying disease. It has become a major social problem which results in reduced productivity and quality of life leading to serious health and economic burden.1

A research group in Japan has shown a significant effect in fatigue alleviation after intake of sesamin with vitamin E (SVE) in participants 40 years and above.2 Studies have suggested that oxidative stress could result in fatigue, particularly reactive oxygen species (ROS) which cause oxidative damage to proteins, DNA and lipids contributing to functional disorders in cells and tissues with reduced levels of energy.3-4 Hence, supplementation of anti-oxidative food may help suppress oxidative stress and alleviate chronic fatigue. Vitamin E (VE) is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant that can inhibit lipid oxidation. It was found that blood VE levels were low in chronic fatigue syndrome patients.5 Although sesamin, a sesame lignan, is not an anti-oxidant, it has also exhibited potent anti-oxidative effect through its metabolites.6

In the study by Takemoto et al., significant reduction in the total fatigue score was observed in week 4 (11.03 ± 0.62) and week 8 (9.92 ± 0.59) compared to baseline (13.42 ± 0.54) in subgroup participants aged 40 and above taking SVE (n=36). 2 Fatigue was evaluated on the basis of 6 questions (easily get tired, can’t get rid of fatigue, feeling of fatigue, feeling languid, eyestrain, vigor). Sleep (light sleeping, awaken feeling unrested, difficulty in falling asleep) and physical appearance (skin in bad condition, poor hair luster/resilience, youthfulness) were evaluated on the basis of 3 questions each. Although all the parameters improved from baseline with SVE supplementation, the most profound effect of SVE after 8 weeks supplementation was on sleep quality. However, when compared to placebo group, the study did not show any significant improvement in fatigue, sleep and physical appearance with SVE supplementation in all participants.

The level of fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome patients has been shown to correlate with the blood concentration of 8-isoprostane, a lipid peroxidation marker, indicating that oxidative stress is an important factor associated with fatigue.7 The induction of SOD activity declines with age beginning in the fifth decade,8 suggesting that anti-oxidant capacity in human body begins to fall between 40 and 50 years of age. In this study, the reduction in fatigue in individuals aged 40 and above could be attributed to enhanced anti-oxidation and improved sleep status with SVE supplementation.

It was found that SVE supplementation decreased LDL oxidative susceptibility, thus reducing oxidative stress. This finding is consistent with the previous studies demonstrating the anti-oxidative properties of catechol-type metabolites of sesame lignans (sesamin and episesamin). They are responsible for the inhibition of serum lipid peroxidation induced by exercise in mice and humans.9-10 Animal studies have also shown a synergistic effect of sesamin and α-tocopherol in the ratio of 1:5 in alleviating elevated cholesterol levels in blood.11

In summary, supplementation of sesame lignans and vitamin E could aid in the reduction of fatigue, especially in middle aged and elderly individuals. Since, aging is generally associated with increased oxidative stress due to reduced anti-oxidative capacity of the body, SVE supplementation can be beneficial for general health.


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