1) Traber MG. Utilization of vitamin E. Biofactors. 1999; 10(2-3):115–120
2) Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Vitamin E. Dietary reference intakes for vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and carotenoids. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press; 2000:186–283.
Alpha-tocopherol is extremely important for the human body and is found in the largest quantities (1). It is specifically selected and concentrated in the liver. The other forms of vitamin E occur in far lower concentrations. It is for this reason that in 2000 the US Food and Nutrition Board recommended defining recommended intakes of vitamin E based on alpha-tocopherol (2).
Products such as vegetable oils, which contain vitamin E, are not necessarily rich in alpha-tocopherol. For instance, the soya beans and corn oils that are popular in the USA contain more gamma than alpha-tocopherol. Wheat germ oil on the other hand contains substantial amounts of alpha-tocopherol.
The natural form of alpha-tocopherol contained in plants is called “RRR alpha tocopherol” or “D-alpha-tocopherol”. Enriched foods and food supplements mostly contain the synthetic “All-rac-alpha-tocopherol” or “DL alpha-tocopherol”. This contains RRR alpha-tocopherol and seven very similar forms of alpha-tocopherol. All-rac-alpha-tocopherol is defined as biologically less active than natural RRR alpha-tocopherol.
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