Monday, March 28, 2011

The Discovery of Vitamin E

Vitamin E was discovered in 1922 by Evans and Bishop as an unidentified factor in vegetable oils required for reproduction in female rats.

The observation was published in 1922. First named ‘factor X’ and the ‘antisterility factor’, Evans suggested adopting the letter E to designate the factor following the then recognized vitamin D.

A vitamin E active compound was isolated from wheat germ oil in 1936.

Because this compound permitted an animal to have offspring, research group named the compound alpha-tocopherol from Greek word ‘tocos’ (meaning childbirth) and ‘ferein’ (to bring forth), relating to its essentiality for rats to bear young. To indicate the presence of an OH group in the molecule, ‘ol’ was added to the ending.

Its correct structure was given in 1938 and the substance was first synthesized by P. Karrer, also in 1938.

In 1940s, a team of Canadian physicians discovered that vitamin E could protect people from coronary heart disease.

Demand for vitamin E has rapidly increased. Along with market demand, the number of product types available to the pharmaceutical food, feed, and cosmetic industries has increased.

In 1968 the Food and Nutrition Boards of the National Academy of Sciences officially recognized vitamin E as an essential nutrient.
The Discovery of Vitamin E
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