Tocopherol (Vitamin E)
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 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 chronic diseases. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, protects your cells from oxidation, and neutralizes unstable free radicals, which can cause damage. This is done by the vitamin E giving up one of its electrons to the electron deficient free radical, making it more stable. While Vitamin E performs its antioxidant functions, it also protects the other antioxidants from being oxidized. This antioxidant capability is then also great in helping to prevent degenerative diseases - including heart disease, strokes, arthritis, senility, diabetes and cancer. It also assists in fighting heart disease and cancers and is essential for red blood cells, helps with cellular respiration and protects the body from pollution - especially the lungs. Vitamin E is also useful in preventing blood clots from forming and promotes fertility, reduces and/or prevents hot flushes in menopause. An increase in stamina and endurance is also attributed to Vitamin E. Vitamin E is also used topically to great effect for skin treatments - in helping the skin look younger, promoting healing and cutting down the risk of scar tissue forming. Used on the skin it is also reported to help with eczema, skin ulcers cold sores and shingles.
Vitamin E is an activity concept, like Vitamins A and D, rather than a single substance. Currently there are 8 naturally occurring, and 8 synthetic vitamin E substances available. Vitamin E activity is found in the oil fraction of most vegetable foods, and is generally extracted from soya, corn, or safflower oils for supplementation purposes. Alpha-tocopherol is the principle vitamin E molecule, and its activity has been used to set dosages for the range of vitamin E compounds. One international unit (IU) is equivalent to 1.0 mg of alpha-tocopherol. Vitamin E is actually an umbrella term for a group of compounds called tocopherols and tocotrienols. Until recently, most vitamin E products contained only tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherols), with alpha-tocopherol recognized as the body's predominant and most potent form.
As a key antioxidant, vitamin E appears to play a modest but notable role in protecting the body from many chronic disorders. It may even slow the aging process and guard against damage from secondhand smoke and other pollutants. According to test-tube studies, the tocotrienols (alpha-tocotrienol, specifically) appear to be the most powerful of the vitamin E antioxidants. Circulatory disorders, skin and joint problems, diabetes-related nerve complications, high cholesterol, endometriosis, immune-system function, and memory are also believed to benefit from vitamin E. To date, however, research has been more intriguing than definitive.
The healing powers of regular vitamin E supplements (that is, those containing tocopherols only) are often merged with those of vitamin C, a sister antioxidant that actually increases the effectiveness of vitamin E. This combination holds some promise for preventing and possibly easing complications of such disorders as congestive heart failure, alcoholism, cancer, HIV infection, lupus, multiple sclerosis and nail problems.
Molecular formula: C29H50O2
Molecular weight: 430.71
CAS Number: 2074-53-5