Vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble compounds that may act as antioxidants, supporting cells and tissues from oxidative damage.* While there are eight different forms of vitamin E, including alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocopherols, and alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocotrienols, it is the different isomers of vitamin E that have garnered a renewed interest in recent years.
What are isomers?
Isomers are molecules that have the same chemical formula but different structural arrangements, and in the case of vitamin E, this means that each isomer has a slightly different biological activity. Historically, vitamin E was first identified in 1922, when researchers discovered a substance that could prevent the infertility of rats fed a diet of purified proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. This substance was later identified as alpha-tocopherol, the most biologically active form of vitamin E.
Over time, researchers discovered that there were other forms of vitamin E, including beta, gamma, and delta-tocopherols, and alpha, beta, gamma, and delta-tocotrienols. Each of these forms has its own unique chemical structure, and as a result, they exhibit different biological activities.
Alpha-tocopherol vitamin E
Alpha-tocopherol is the most well-known form of vitamin E, and it is the form that is typically found in supplements and fortified foods. However, recent research has shown that other forms of vitamin E, including gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol, may have important health benefits as well.
In addition to their health benefits, vitamin E isomers are also used in a variety of industrial applications. For example, tocopherols and tocotrienols may be used as antioxidants in the food industry, helping to extend the shelf life of some products and potentially prevent oxidation.
In conclusion, vitamin E is a family of fat-soluble compounds that may act as antioxidants, protecting cells and tissues from oxidative damage. While alpha-tocopherol is the most well-known form of vitamin E, recent research has shown that other forms of vitamin E, including gamma-tocopherol and alpha-tocotrienol, may have important health benefits as well. As our understanding of vitamin E continues to evolve, it is likely that we will discover even more benefits of these important compounds.
As always, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements. Get professional advice if you think you might need a vitamin E isomers supplement or are already taking one to ensure you're not exceeding the amounts you may need.