Tocopheryl acetate, also known as vitamin E acetate, is a common vitamin supplement. It is the ester of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E). Tocopheryl acetate is used as an alternative to tocopherol itself because the phenolic hydroxyl group is blocked, providing a less acidic product. It is believed that the acetate is slowly hydrolyzed once it is absorbed into the skin, regenerating tocopherol and providing protection against the sun s ultraviolet rays.
Vitamin E is present in green leafy vegetables, wheat germ and other plant oils, egg yolks, and meat.
Vitamin E is the collective name for a set of eight related tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are fat-soluble vitamins with antioxidant properties. Of these, α-tocopherol has been most studied as it has the highest bioavailability, with the body preferentially absorbing and using this form. Because the vitamin activity was first identified in 1936 from a dietary fertility factor in rats, it was given the name “tocopherol” from the Greek words “τοκος” [birth], and “φορειν”, [to bear or carry] meaning in sum “to carry a pregnancy,” with the ending “-ol” signifying its status as a chemical alcohol.
It has been claimed that α-tocopherol is the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant, and that it protects cell membranes from oxidation by reacting with lipid radicals produced in the lipid peroxidation chain reaction. This removes the free radical intermediates and prevents the oxidation reaction from continuing. The oxidised α-tocopheroxyl radicals produced in this process may be recycled back to the active reduced form through reduction by other antioxidants, such as ascorbate, retinol or ubiquinol.
The functions of the other forms of vitamin E are less well-studied, although γ-tocopherol is a nucleophile that may react with electrophilic mutagens, and tocotrienols may have a specialized role in protecting neurons from damage. However, the roles and importance of the various forms of vitamin E are presently unclear, and it has even been suggested that the most important function of vitamin E is as a signaling molecule, and that it has no significant role in antioxidant metabolism.
In the cosmetics Vitamin E is used as an antioxidant which can protect the cells of the skin against free radicals and at the same time protect the product against oxidation. It is also an effective moisturizing agent and improves the elasticity of the skin. It can be used in skin care products for daily use, but it is particularly useful in sun care products.