Vitamins A and E: metabolism, roles and transfer to offspring

Br J Nutr. 2005 Feb;93(2):153-74. doi: 10.1079/bjn20041308.


Vitamins A and E are essential, naturally occurring, fat-soluble nutrients that are involved in several important biological processes such as immunity, protection against tissue damage, reproduction, growth and development. They are extremely important during the early stages of life and must be transferred adequately to the young during gestation and lactation. The present article presents an overview of their biological functions, metabolism and dynamics of transfer to offspring in mammals. Among other topics, the review focuses on the biochemical aspects of their intestinal absorption, blood transport, tissue uptake, storage and catabolism. It also describes their different roles as well as their use as preventive and therapeutic agents. Finally, the mechanisms involved in their transfer during gestation and lactation are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Female
  • Isomerism
  • Lactation / physiology
  • Mammals / growth & development
  • Mammals / metabolism
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Vitamin A / metabolism
  • Vitamin A / physiology*
  • Vitamin E / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / physiology*


  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin E