A History of Vitamin ENiki E. · Traber M.G.
aHealth Research Institute, AIST, Ikeda, Japan; bLinus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oreg., USA
Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) was discovered nearly 100 years ago because it was required to prevent fetal resorption in pregnant, vitamin E-deficient rats fed lard-containing diets that were easily oxidizable. The human diet contains eight different vitamin E-related molecules synthesized by plants; despite the fact that all of these molecules are peroxyl radical scavengers, the human body prefers α-tocopherol. The biological activity of vitamin E is highly dependent upon regulatory mechanisms that serve to retain α-tocopherol and excrete the non-α-tocopherol forms. This preference is dependent upon the combination of the function of α-tocopherol transfer protein (α-TTP) to enrich the plasma with α-tocopherol and the metabolism of non-α-tocopherols. α-TTP is critical for human health because mutations in this protein lead to severe vitamin E deficiency characterized by neurologic abnormalities, especially ataxia and eventually death if vitamin E is not provided in large quantities to overcome the lack of α-TTP. α-Tocopherol serves as a peroxyl radical scavenger that protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in membranes and lipoproteins. Although specific pathways and specific molecular targets have been sought in a variety of studies, the most likely explanation as to why humans require vitamin E is that it is a fat-soluble antioxidant.
Maret G. Traber, PhD
Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University
307 Linus Pauling Science Center
Corvallis, OR 97331 (USA)
Published online: November 26, 2012
Number of Print Pages : 6
Number of Figures : 2, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 45
Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism
Vol. 61, No. 3, Year 2012 (Cover Date: November 2012)
Journal Editor: Koletzko B. (Munich)
ISSN: 0250-6807 (Print), eISSN: 1421-9697 (Online)
For additional information: http://www.karger.com/ANM