Published Date : Jan 29, 2016
Tocopherols are a class of vitamin E compounds, which are naturally present in vegetable oils, fish, nuts, and leafy vegetables. As a generic nomenclature, tocopherol is called as vitamin E, as vitamin E is constitutes tocopherols and similar compounds.
Vitamin E, which forms an essential component of the human diet, is well documented for its nutritional benefits. In addition, vitamin E activity is related with prevention of chronic diseases and helps with disorders of the central nervous system.
In natural state, tocopherols are a homologous mixture of four types of tocopherols – alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Of these, alpha tocopherol is commonly available and is rated highest for effectiveness. Alpha tocopherols offer highest resistance against free radicals that cause oxidation and cell destruction in the body.
Health Implications of Diet Devoid of Vitamin E
The discovery of vitamin E happened in 1922 with experiments on rats. In the experiments, rats were fed purified diet sans vitamin E, which led to infertility. On adding wheat germ oil to the diet, the fertility of the rats was restored. Later, in the feed for rats, the oil-based substance was removed and named as the ‘antisterility vitamin”. In Greek, the literal meaning of tokos and phero are ‘offspring’ and ‘to bear’ respectively, so tocopherol implies ‘to bear children’.
Although the deficiency of vitamin E is not related with any disease, it is well accepted to be essential for humans. However, it remains questionable if vitamin E is needed for fertility. Nevertheless, general public experience opines that taking vitamin E makes a difference to the health of many. Today, the average diet contains much less vitamin E in natural form as compared to its content in the diet that was consumed 50 years ago; tocopherols present in vitamin E preserve the taste of foods and prevent them from rancidity due to oils and fat.
Micronutrient Deficiency Burdens Healthcare in U.S.
In the U.S., micronutrient deficiency is cited as one of the major reasons why the nation is grappling the burden of preventable diseases. Vitamin E is one of the top five micronutrients missing in the diets of most Americans. Most multivitamins contain synthetic vitamin E; research from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that, d-alpha tocopherol, which is the natural form of vitamin E, is biologically more active