Sesame: Faith in a Small Seed

A lignan known as sesamin, found in raw unhulled sesame seeds and its paste tahini has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties [5]. Lignans generally come packaged within fiber-rich foods, and don’t let the name fool you; because sesamins can also be found in chickpeas, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and in apricots and strawberries. Though sesame seeds are particularly abundant in this beneficial compound.

 

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How does it work?

Sesamin works indirectly to increase circulating levels of Vitamin E, especially γ-tocopherol and γ-tocotrienol by blocking its degradation; the antioxidant benefits of which are far-reaching. Studies reveal a positive correlation between Vitamin E intake and heart, liver health, eye, brain, and nerve health. Its protective properties are not limited to certain body parts, however . Theoretically, if it’s a tissue that is susceptible to damage, Vitamin E can prevent or reduce that damage.

It has also been shown to preserve bodily stores of Vitamin K; an important factor in blood clotting.

When taken in conjunction with these supplements (at varying doses,) its activity may be enhanced:

Fish oil – Sesamin has been shown to boost hepatic fat oxidation when taken alone. Combining it with fish oil reduces the effective dose by half (from 0.5% of the diet to 0/2%) [4].
Alpha-Lipoic Acid – one study shows this combination may have additive effects in improving lipid profiles [3].
Schisandra – this combination has shown to be as effective as milk thistle in aiding liver detoxification, increasing blood flow, and increasing hepatic antioxidant levels over a 5-month period [2].

How much should I take:

Scientific studies have shown the effective dosage to be between 100-150mg of sesamin [1], which can be found in 10-15g (about 1 Tablespoon) of raw sesame seeds.

Possible drug-nutrient interaction:

Sesamin may interfere with enzymes that metabolize certain drugs. If you are taking prescriptions medications, check with your doctor before taking large amounts of sesamin.

References

1- http://www.eurekaselect.com/88561/article

2- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18979496

3- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22752262

4- http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16483883

5- http://examine.com/supplements/Sesamin/

 

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