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Vitamin E

Vitamin E refers to eight very similar molecules: α, β, γ and δ-Tocopherol and α, β, γ and δ-Tocotrienol (Figures 1 and 2 compare α-tocopherol and α-tocotrienol structures).  Tocopherols have a “saturated” tail while tocotrienols have an “unsaturated” tail, similar to the terminology when describing lipids (fatty acids in fats and butters).  The most common form is α-tocopherol (Figure 1).   

Vitamin E acts as an essential antioxidant and helps prevent oxidative damage of biological molecules (think of the smell of rancid meat – this is due to oxidation of biomolecules in the meat). In addition, Vitamin E plays a role in more complex functions like cellular signaling and is neuroprotective.   

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble molecule commonly found in plant oils extracted from seeds and fruit.  Plants and other photosynthetic organisms are the only organisms that are able to naturally synthesize Vitamin E.  Thus, humans (and all other non-photosynthetic organisms) need to obtain Vitamin E from their diet.  Because of this, Vitamin E is called an essential vitamin.  Vitamin E deficiency is very rare because it is easily found in common foods.  Rather than a lack of Vitamin E in the diet, a deficiency is usually caused by the inability to absorb the vitamin from the diet.  Regardless, severe neurological effects occur if there is a deficiency of Vitamin E.   

The daily recommended dosage of Vitamin E is about 15 mg and mega-doses (e.g. 2000 mg/day) did not provide enhanced protection and in fact showed detrimental effects (see reference: Bjelakovic, et al., 2013).  

Vitamin E
Figure 1: Chemical drawing of α-tocopherol.  
Vitamin E
Figure 2: Chemical drawing of α-tocotrienol. 

We include Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) in our some of our products because it helps stabilize biomolecules (fats and oils) which leads to a more stable product and a longer lifespan.  Also, it provides additional health benefits to the consumer. 

Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud C. (2013). Meta-regression analyses, meta-analyses, and trial sequential analyses of the effects of supplementation with β-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E singly or in different combinations on all-cause mortality: do we have evidence for lack of harm? PLoS One, 8, e74558. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0074558