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The theory of oxygen-free radicals has been known about fifty years ago (4). However, only within the last two decades, has there been an explosive discovery of their roles in the development of diseases, and also of the health protective effects of antioxidants.
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Vitamin E. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with high antioxidant potency. Vitamin E is a chiral compound with eight stereoisomers: α, β, γ, δ tocopherol and α, β, γ, δ tocotrienol. Only α-tocopherol is the most bioactive form in humans. Studies in both animals and humans indicate that natural dextrorotary d-α-tocopherol is nearly twice as effective as synthetic racemic dl-α-tocopherol (39). Because it is fat-soluble, α-tocopherol safeguards cell membranes from damage by free radicals. Its antioxidant function mainly resides in the protection against lipid peroxidation. Vitamin E has been proposed for the prevention against colon, prostate and breast cancers, some cardiovascular diseases, ischemia, cataract, arthritis and certain neurological disorders. (40). However, a recent trial revealed that daily α-tocopherol doses of 400 IU or more can increase the risk of death and should be avoided. In contrast, there is no increased risk of death with a dose of 200 IU per day or less, and there may even be some benefit (41). Although controversial, the use of long-term vitamin E supplementation in high dose should be approached cautiously until further evidence for its safety is available. The dietary sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, wheat germ oil, whole grains, nuts, cereals, fruits, eggs, poultry, meat (6, 40). Cooking and storage may destroy natural d-α-tocopherol in foods (40). 041b061a72