Vitamin E, the Supporting role ingredient in skin care products

Vitamin E, also called Tocopherol, Vit E, α-tocopherol, Alphaα-tocopherol, has been widely used in skin care products. Today, we are going to find out why so many skin care products include this amazing ingredient, why these big brands prefer to add Vitamin E into their products from the perspective of effect of Vitamin E.

What is Vitamin E?

According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2021), Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in many types, but the human body only uses alphaα-tocopherol. Its primary function is to serve as an antioxidant, scavenging loose electrons (also known as “free radicals”) that can cause cell harm. It also boosts immunity and stops blood clots from developing in the arteries of the heart.

Most fruits and vegetables contain the body’s antioxidant, a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin E is often used in creams and lotions since it is thought to aid in skin recovery and scar reduction. It comes in eight distinct varieties. There are four tocopherols in this supplement: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta, as well as four tocotrienols. Alphaα-tocopherol is thought to be the most powerful anti-oxidant for the human body among them.

Vitamin E is a chain-breaking antioxidant that inhibits free radical damage in biological membranes by acting as a peroxyl radical scavenger.  (Traber and Packer, 1995) According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (2021), Vitamin E and other antioxidant vitamins gained popularity in the 1980s when scientists realized that free radical damage was involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis and could also lead to cancer, vision loss, and a variety of other chronic conditions. However, contradictory research findings have cast doubt on the efficacy of high-dose vitamin E in preventing chronic diseases.

Why choose α-tocopherol in the skin care products?

Why should the body choose α-tocopherol as its special source of vitamin E? according to Traber and Atkinson (2007) notwithstanding the fact that all naturally occurring vitamin E formulations, as well as those of synthetic all-rac—tocopherol, have identical antioxidant properties? We suggest that α-tocopherol’s function as a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant is responsible for all of the findings about its in vivo mode of action. The aim of this analysis is to summarize the evidence for α-tocopherol’s in vivo activity and to assert that a peroxyl radical scavenger is α-tocopherol’s primary, if not only, vitamin role. This role is critical for preserving the stability of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in cell membranes and hence their bioactivity. That is, these bioactive lipids are essential signaling molecules, and shifts in their numbers, or their loss due to oxidation, are the primary cellular events to which cells react. Others have identified α-tocopherol modulation of different signaling pathways, but they seem to be more reliant on the cell or tissue’s oxidative stress. Furthermore, considering that numerous antioxidants other than α-tocopherol and various oxidative stressors will regulate their responses, it seems doubtful that these pathways are directly under the influence of α-tocopherol. Almost all of vitamin E’s biological function can be seen and interpreted in terms of polyunsaturated fatty acid defense and the membrane properties (fluidity, phase differentiation, and lipid domains) that polyunsaturated fatty acids carry about.

According to Niki and Traber (2012) Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) was discovered nearly a century ago when it was discovered that it was necessary to avoid fetal resorption in breastfeeding, vitamin E-deficient rats fed readily oxidizable lard-containing diets. Despite the fact that all eight vitamin E-related molecules synthesized by plants are peroxyl radical scavengers, the human body favors α-tocopherol. Vitamin E’s biological function is heavily reliant on regulatory pathways that help to maintain α-tocopherol when excreting nonα-tocopherol types. This choice is based on the action of α-tocopherol transfer protein (-TTP), which enriches plasma with α-tocopherol, as well as the metabolism of non—tocopherols. Since mutations in this protein trigger extreme vitamin E deficiency, which is marked by neurologic abnormalities, particularly ataxia, and eventually death if vitamin E is not given in sufficient amounts to compensate for the lack of -TTP, -TTP is essential for human health. α-tocopherol protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in membranes and lipoproteins by acting as a peroxyl radical scavenger. While various studies have found precise mechanisms and molecular targets, the most possible reason for why humans need vitamin E is that it is a fat-soluble antioxidant.

Benefits of Vitamin E in skin care products

Niki (2015) states that In vivo, vitamin E is the most plentiful and strong antioxidant for scavenging free radicals. It is lipophilic and, when combined with the hydrophilic vitamin C, has protective properties within biological membranes and lipoproteins. Vitamins E and C work together to prevent LDL oxidation. The processes and dynamics of vitamin E’s function as a radical-scavenging antioxidant have been extensively studied and recorded.

Vitamin E’s unmistakable biological activity as an antioxidant was first shown in the context of carbon tetrachloride toxicity of liver harm. As previously said, carbon tetrachloride causes lipid peroxidation induced by free radicals, which causes liver harm that can be prevented by the use of vitamin E. Numerous researches in cell culture and animal experimentation have verified the antioxidant effects of vitamin E and other antioxidants against carbon tetrachloride toxicity.

As vitamin E scavenges peroxyl radicals, it transforms into vitamin E radical, which can then be oxidized further to form α-tocopherolquinone or reduced by vitamin C or other reducing compounds to regenerate vitamin E. α-tocopherolquinone is a biomarker for vitamin E’s antioxidant activity. Intriguingly, human atherosclerotic plaque contains a large amount of α-tocopherolquinone.

Vitamin E deficiency may trigger ataxia, neurological abnormalities, and infertility, among other things. Synthetic radical-scavenging antioxidants have been seen to help with certain diseases, implying that vitamin E has a function as a radical-scavenging antioxidant.

Reference List:

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 2021,, (Accessed 28th April 2021)

Niki, E., 2015. Evidence for beneficial effects of vitamin E. The Korean Journal of Internal Medicine, 30(5), pp.571-579.

Niki, E. and Traber, M., 2012. A History of Vitamin E. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 61(3), pp.207-212.

Traber, M. and Atkinson, J., 2007. Vitamin E, antioxidant and nothing more. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 43(1), pp.4-15.

Traber, M. and Packer, L., 1995. Vitamin E: beyond antioxidant function. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 62(6), pp.1501S-1509S.

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