Relative Strengths Of The Various Forms Of Vitamin E

The relative strength of the different forms of vitamin E can be expressed as either alpha-tocopherol equivalents (alpha-TE) or international units (IU). One alpha-TE represents the activity of 1 mg RRR-alpha-tocopherol (D-alpha-tocopherol), and the alpha-TE of natural forms of vitamin E can be calculated using simple mathematics. The number of milligrams of beta-tocopherol should be multiplied by 0.5, gamma-tocopherol by 0.1, and alpha-tocotrienol by 0.3, whereas any of the synthetic all-rac-alpha-tocopherols (DL-alpha-tocopherol) should be multiplied by 0.74 (FAO/WHO 2002).

More commonly, activity is described in terms of International Units (IU) where 1 mg of synthetic all-rac-alpha-tocopherol (DL-alpha-tocopherol) acetate is equivalent to 1 IU of vitamin E. Relative to this, 1 mg of DL-alpha-tocopherol is equal to 1.1 IU, 1 mg of D-alpha-tocopheryl acid succinate is equal to 1.21 IU and 1 mg of D-alpha-tocopheryl acetate is equal to 1.36 IU. The natural form of D-alpha-tocopherol has the highest biopotency, which is equal to at least 1.49 IU (Meydani & Hayes 2003).

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