Vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate, mixed d-alpha-, d-beta-, d-delta-, d-gamma-tocopherols, and tocotrienols)

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. Natural vitamin E exists in eight different forms: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocopherol; and alpha, beta, gamma, and delta tocotrienol. Alpha-tocopherol is the most active form in humans. In foods, vitamin E exists primarily as mixed tocopherols. Foods that contain vitamin E include: eggs, fortified cereals, fruit, green leafy vegetables, meat, nuts/nut oils, poultry, vegetable oils and whole grains. Vitamin E supplements are available in natural or synthetic forms. While the precise rate of vitamin E absorption is not known with certainty, it is believed to be variable and low. Reported rates of absorption of vitamin E following intake with food have varied from as high as 51%-86% to as low as 21%-29% 1. All forms of vitamin E, including all of the tocopherol and tocotrienol homologues, are absorbed through the intestine in a similar manner.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has established a Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of 30 international units (IUs) vitamin E for adults and children 4 or more years of age (21CFR101.9). RDIs are a set of dietary references for essential vitamins and minerals that are considered amounts sufficient to meet the daily requirements of healthy individuals. RDIs serve as the basis for calculating the percent daily value (%DV) amounts found on dietary supplement and food labels.

D-alpha-tocopheryl succinate (also called d-alpha tocopherol succinate or d-alpha tocopherol acid succinate) is an organic compound derived from vegetable oils that acts as a source of vitamin E. Most ingested d-alpha tocopherol succinate is converted to alpha-tocopherol in the intestine before being absorbed 2. Alpha-tocopherol, like other forms of vitamin E, demonstrates antioxidant activity 3. Alpha tocopherol acid succinate is approved for use as a food additive by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 4.

Tocopherols and tocotrienols are organic compounds collectively known as vitamin E. They naturally exist as a mixture of d-alpha-, d-beta-, d-gamma- and d-delta-isoforms, each having antioxidant activities 5. Tocopherols are present in many foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts and grains. They are considered generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in foods (21CFR182.3890) 4. Tocotrienols are present in foods such as cereal grains and cooking oils (i.e. palm, safflower, peanut and olive). Although tocotrienols are not as well studied compared to other forms of vitamin E, such as alpha-tocopherol, the safety of consumption of all forms of vitamin E is considered comparable.


  1. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2000.
  2. PDR for Nutritional Supplements. Montvale, NJ: Physicians’ Desk Reference, Inc, 2008.
  3. Handbook of Pharmaceutical Excipients. Washington, DC: Pharmaceutical Press and American Pharmacists Assn, 2006.
  4. Food and Drug Administration. EAFUS: A Food Additive Database. 10-17-2008. 12-4-2008.
  5. Yoshida Y, Saito Y, Jones LS, Shigeri Y. Chemical reactivities and physical effects in comparison between tocopherols and tocotrienols: physiological significance and prospects as antioxidants. J Biosci Bioeng. 2007;104:439-45.