Interaction among vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene

Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 Dec;62(6 Suppl):1322S-1326S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/62.6.1322S.


The effects of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol), and beta-carotene as antioxidants and their cooperative action against the oxidation of lipid in solution, membranes, and lipoproteins have been studied and reviewed. Ascorbic acid and alpha-tocopherol act as potent, and probably the most important, hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants, respectively. They function at their own site individually and furthermore act synergistically. beta-Carotene has lower reactivity toward radicals than does alpha-tocopherol and acts as a weak antioxidant in solution. It is more lipophilic than alpha-tocopherol and is assumed to be present at the interior of membranes or lipoproteins, which enables it to scavenge radicals within the lipophilic compartment more efficiently than does alpha-tocopherol. The cooperative interaction between vitamin C and vitamin E may be quite probable, that of vitamin C and beta-carotene is improbable, whereas that between vitamin E and beta-carotene may be possible.

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Ascorbic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*
  • beta Carotene


  • Antioxidants
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Ascorbic Acid