E, known as the anti-sterility vitamin - from the Greek tokos (child)
and pherein (bear), is fat-soluble and is a mixture of alpha-, beta-,
gamma- and delta- tocopherols. Although eight chemically similar substances
have Vitamin E activity, alpha-tocopherol is the most active of these
with 100%, followed by beta- (15-40%), gamma- (1-20% then delta (1%).
Found in most foods, it is abundant in, amongst other things, whole
grain cereals, corn and cottonseed oils, egg yolks, meat and milk. (See
also E307, E308 and E309).
It is essential to the life of
red blood cells and helps the supply of oxygen to the heart and muscles.
Its requirement is increased by high intakes of polyunsaturated fats
but, as the body stores about a year's supply, Vitamin E deficiency
that produces signs and symptoms is rare. It is possible that generous
intakes protect cell membranes from oxidation damage and consequent
is an antioxidant for polyunsaturated fatty acids in tissue fats and
is used in meat pies, desert toppings and vegetable oils as well as
a vitamin supplement. Has a greater antioxidant effect than gamma-tocopherol
(E308) in animals but not in cells or non-biological
matter. It also protects other nutrients, such as Vitamin A, from oxidation
but is largely destroyed by freezing.
Commercially it can be extracted, by distillation in a vacuum, from
cottonseed, maize, rice germ, soya been oil, wheat germ, or green leaves
and may, therefore, come from Genetically Modified sources.
of its antioxidant synergy with Ascorbyl palmitate
it is likely to be found in combination with E304.
Tocopherol, or Vitamin E, is
a fat-soluble vitamin in eight forms that is an important antioxidant.
Vitamin E is often used in skin creams and lotions because it is believed
to play a role in encouraging skin healing and reducing scarring after
injuries such as burns.
Vitamin E exists in eight different
forms. Each form has its own biological activity, the measure of potency
or functional use in the body. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form
of vitamin E in humans, and is a powerful biological antioxidant.
Antioxidants such as vitamin
E act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which
are potentially damaging by-products of the body's metabolism. Free
radicals can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development
of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Studies are underway to determine
whether vitamin E might help prevent or delay the development of those
The RDA for vitamin E is based
on the alpha-tocopherol form because it is the most active, or usable,
form. Unlike other vitamins, the form of alpha-tocopherol made in the
laboratory and found in supplements is not identical to the natural
form, and is not quite as active as the natural form.