The chemistry and antioxidant properties of tocopherols and tocotrienols

Afaf Kamal-Eldin, Lars Åke Appelqvist

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1555 Citations (Scopus)


This article is a review of the fundamental chemistry of the tocopherols and tocotrienols relevant to their antioxidant action. Despite the general agreement that α-tocopherol is the most efficient antioxidant and vitamin E homologue in vivo, there was always a considerable discrepancy in its 'absolute' and 'relative' antioxidant effectiveness in vitro, especially when compared to γ-tocopherol. Many chemical, physical, biochemical, physicochemical, and other factors seem responsible for the observed discrepancy between the relative antioxidant potencies of the tocopherols in vivo and in vitro. This paper aims at highlighting some possible reasons for the observed differences between the tocopherols (α-, β-, γ-, and δ-) in relation to their interactions with the important chemical species involved in lipid peroxidation, specifically trace metal ions, singlet oxygen, nitrogen oxides, and antioxidant synergists. Although literature reports related to the chemistry of the tocotrienols are quite meager, they also were included in the discussion in virtue of their structural and functional resemblance to the tocopherols.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-701
Number of pages31
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Cell Biology


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