Vitamin E

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Vitamin E is a generic term for tocopherols and tocotrienols.[1] Vitamin E is a family of α-, β-, γ-, and δ- (respectively: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta) tocopherols and corresponding four tocotrienols. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of reactive oxygen species formed when fat undergoes oxidation.[2][3][4] Of these, α-tocopherol (also written as alpha-tocopherol) has been most studied as it has the highest bioavailability.[5]

Contents

α-Tocopherol

It has been claimed that α-tocopherol is the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant, and that it protects cell membranes from oxidation by reacting with lipid radicals produced in the lipid peroxidation chain reaction.[3][6] This would remove the free radical intermediates and prevent the oxidation reaction from continuing. The oxidised α-tocopheroxyl radicals produced in this process may be recycled back to the active reduced form through reduction by other antioxidants, such as ascorbate, retinol or ubiquinol.[7] However, the importance of the antioxidant properties of this molecule at the concentrations present in the body are not clear and it is possible that the reason why vitamin E is required in the diet is unrelated to its ability to act as an antioxidant.[8] Other forms of vitamin E have their own unique properties. For example, γ-tocopherol (also written as gamma-tocopherol) is a nucleophile that can react with electrophilic mutagens.[5]

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