Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. It consists of eight compounds all synthesized by plants. Vitamin E is divided into two major groups, tocopherols and tocotrienols. The most potent Vitamin E compound is natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol).
Optimal Vitamin E absorption requires the presence of bile salts and pancreatic juice in the small intestine. Absorbed Vitamin E is incorporated into chylomicrons and transported through the lymph into circulation where it is distributed into the tissues by low-density lipoproteins (LDL).
The largest storage area for Vitamin E is in adipose tissue. Tocopherol in the liver is depleted rapidly while loss of vitamin E in fatty tissue is quite slow.
Functions of Vitamin E:
• Antioxidant activity – diminishes production of lipid peroxides that damage cell membranes. Especially susceptible tissues are erythrocytes, muscle, heart, liver, adipose tissue and the brain
• Maintenance of intracellular membrane integrity
• Works with selenium to protect against peroxidation of membrane lipids
• Effects synthesis of Coenzyme A and adenosine triphosphate (ATP)
• DNA repair, protection of the nervous system, muscles and retinas. Vitamin E also protects red blood cells and helps prevent the destruction of vitamin A and C