The following HTML text is provided to enhance online
readability. Many aspects of typography translate only awkwardly to HTML.
Please use the page image
as the authoritative form to ensure accuracy.
DRI DIETARY REFERENCE INTAKES FOR Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids
convertible in the human and thus do not behave the same metabolically.
Synthetic Vitamin E
Synthetic forms of α-tocopherol are present in fortified foods and in vitamin supplements. Vitamin E supplements are sold as esters of either the natural RRR- or the synthetic mixture (all rac-) forms of α-tocopherol. Because α-tocopherol has three asymmetric carbon atoms, it has eight possible stereoisomers, seven of which are only found in synthetic preparations. Synthetic vitamin E, all rac-α-tocopherol (historically and incorrectly labeled dl-α-tocopherol) (Horwitt, 1976),1 is produced by coupling trimethylhydroquinone with isophytol; it contains all eight stereoisomers in equal amounts (Figure 6-2). Four of the stereoisomers are in the 2R-stereoisomeric form (RRR-, RSR-, RRS-, and RSS-α-tocopherol) and four are in the 2S-stereoisomeric form (SRR- SSR-, SRS-, and SSS-α-tocopherol). Although RRR-α-tocopherol is the most biologically active of the eight stereoisomers in rats, the other 2R-stereoisomers generally have a higher activity than the 2S stereoisomers (Weiser and Vecchi, 1982; Weiser et al., 1986).
The naturally occurring stereoisomer is RRR-α-tocopherol (historically and incorrectly labeled d-α-tocopherol) (Horwitt, 1976). RRR-α-Tocopherol can be derived by methylating γ-tocopherol isolated from vegetable oil. This is labeled “natural source” vitamin E when marketed.
Esterification of the labile hydroxyl (OH) group on the chromanol ring of vitamin E prevents its oxidation and extends its shelf life. This is why esters of α-tocopherol are often used in vitamin E supplements and in fortified foods. In apparently healthy humans,
The original international standard for vitamin E, dl-α-tocopheryl acetate (one asymmetric carbon atom in the 2 position on the chromal ring, ambo-α-tocopheryl acetate) is no longer commercially available. It was synthesized from natural phytol and was a mixture of two stereoisomers of α-tocopherols, RRR-α-tocopheryl acetate and SRR-α-tocopheryl acetate (Horwitt, 1976). For practical purposes at the time, the activity of 1 mg of dl-α-tocopheryl acetate was defined as equivalent to one IU of vitamin E. The dl-α-tocopheryl acetate of commerce currently available is synthesized from synthetic isophytol, has eight stereoisomers, and is labeled as dl-α-tocopheryl acetate. However, it is more accurately called all rac-α-tocopheryl acetate (AIN, 1990; IUPAC, 1974) because it contains three asymmetric carbon atoms in the 2, 4', and 8' positions (2RS, 4'RS, 8'RS-α-tocopherol). The all rac and ambo-α-tocopheryl acetates were shown to have the same biological activity in rats (Weiser et al., 1986).