Molecular activities of vitamin E

Jean Marc Zingg, Angelo Azzi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


The phytochemicals present in the human diet are unique substances produced during growth and development of plants. In addition to their nutritional role, phytochemicals can have a therapeutic role with health-protective benefits by acting as modifiers of many physiological functions. Whereas most of these dietary phytonutrients are not essential for the human body (flavonoids, polyphenols, most carotenoids, etc.) and are either poorly taken up or their plasma concentration is limited by efficient metabolism and elimination, a few of these molecules are essential for the human body, such as pro-vitamin A (β-carotene), vitamin K (phylloquinone), or vitamin E (tocopherols). The plasma and tissue concentrations of these essential compounds are regulated either via their uptake, metabolism, or retention; concentrations below the physiological normal lead to deficiency syndromes, and concentrations much above that can lead to accumulation and toxicity. Many phytochemicals have the ability to chemically scavenge free radicals and thus act in the test tube as antioxidants, but their main biological activity is by acting as hormones, ligands for transcription factors, modulators of enzymatic activities, or as structural components. In fact, oxidation of these molecules may impair their biological activity, and cellular defense systems exist, which protect these molecules from oxidation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPhytochemicals
Subtitle of host publicationNutrient-Gene Interactions
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781420005905
ISBN (Print)0849341809, 9780849341809
StatePublished - Jan 1 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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