Vitamin E: Regulatory Redox Interactions

IUBMB Life. 2019 Apr;71(4):430-441. doi: 10.1002/iub.2008. Epub 2019 Jan 25.


Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that was discovered in the 1920s. Many of the physiological functions of vitamin E, including its antioxidative effects, have been studied for nearly 100 years. Changes in redox balance induced by both endogenously and exogenously generated reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in various diseases, and are also a phenomenon that is considered essential for survival. Vitamin E is known to regulate redox balance in the body due to its high concentration among the lipid soluble vitamin groups, and exists ubiquitously in the whole body, including cell membranes and lipoproteins. However, it has been reported that the beneficial properties of vitamin E, including its antioxidative effects, are only displayed in vitro, and not in vivo. Therefore, there exists an ongoing debate regarding the biological functions of vitamin E and its relationship with redox balance. In this review, we introduce the relationship between vitamin E and redox interactions with (i) absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of vitamin E, (ii) oxidative stress and ROS in the body, (iii) mechanism of antioxidative effects, (iv) non-antioxidant functions of vitamin E, and (v) recent recognition of the field of oxidative stress research. Understanding the recent findings of the redox interaction of vitamin E may help to elucidate the different antioxidative phenomena observed for vitamin E in vitro and in vivo. © 2019 IUBMB Life, 71(4):430-441, 2019.

Keywords: antioxidants; lipid hydroperoxide; non-antioxidant functions; oxidative stress; supramolecular structure; tocopherol; tocotrienol; vitamin E.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / metabolism
  • Vitamin E / pharmacokinetics*
  • Vitamin E / physiology*


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Vitamin E