Vitamin E Structure

Vitamin E consists of a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols (Fig. 18.1), and all are derivatives of 6-chromanol with an aliphatic side chain. The four tocopherol

A. Tocopherols

A. Tocopherols

B. Tocotrienols

B. Tocotrienols

Fig. 18.1 Tocopherol and tocotrienol structures

Fig. 18.1 Tocopherol and tocotrienol structures homologs (a-, P-, y-, and 5-) have a fully saturated C16 phytol side chain [15], whereas tocotrienols (a-, P-, y-, and 5-) have a similar isoprenoid chain containing three double bonds [16]. Individual tocopherols are named according to the position and number of the methyl groups on the phenol ring, with the a-, P-, y-, and 5-tocopherols containing three, two, two, and one methyl groups, respectively. These structural differences determine biological activity, a-homologues being the most biologically active. a-Tocopherol predominates in leaves of higher plants, whereas y-tocopherol is often the major form in seeds [17].

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