Plant-derived vitamins are of great interest because of their impact on human health. They are essential for metabolism because of their redox chemistry and role as enzymatic cofactors, not only in animals but also in plants. Several vitamins have strong antioxidant potential, including both water-soluble (vitamins B and C) and lipid-soluble (vitamins A, E and K) compounds. Here, we review recent advances in the understanding of antioxidant roles of vitamins and present an overview of their occurrence within the plant kingdom, different organs and subcellular location; their major biosynthetic pathways, including common precursors and competitive pathways; and their antioxidant function. In particular, we discuss novel evidence for, as well as evidence against, a role of B vitamins as important antioxidants.
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