Vitamin E is a generic term covering all tocopherols and tocotrienols which qualitatively exhibit the same biological activity as α−tocopherol. Therefore, vitamin E refers to α-, β-, γ- and δ-tocopherols, plus α-, β-, γ- and δ-tocotrienols.
Vitamin E is long recognised as the body´s major lipid soluble antioxidant, and thus is fundamental in maintaining the integrity and functionality of the cellular membranes of all cells of the human body. As an antioxidant, vitamin E acts within cell membranes, constructed from unsaturated fatty acids and protects the cell membranes from oxidation. In doing so, the vitamin is oxidised itself and must be ‘recycled’ back to its active form, typically by vitamin C.
Due to its role as an antioxidant, vitamin E may play a key role in the protection against conditions associated with increased oxidative stress, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, disorders involving chronic inflammation, cancer, and neurologic disorders.
In addition to its antioxidant function, research demonstrated specific roles of vitamin E in signal transduction, gene expression, and regulation of cellular functions, including immune response. There is substantial evidence that vitamin E has a role in the prevention of atherosclerosis by inhibiting low density lipoprotein (LDL) oxidation and anti-inflammatory actions.
EFSA has acknowledged the following beneficial effects as a basis for health claim:
• Vitamin E contributes to the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage