Vitamin E is divided into two subgroups; tocopherols and┬átocotrienols. Both have protective roles in biological systems. The present study was conducted to compare the effect of short-term supplementation at 200 mg/d of either alpha-tocopherol or a┬átocotrienol-rich fraction (TRF) from palm oil on immune modulation and plasma vitamin E levels in normal healthy Asian volunteers. In a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial conducted, fifty-three healthy volunteers aged 20-50 years were recruited based on the study’s inclusion and exclusion criteria. They were randomly assigned into three groups, i.e. two experimental groups that received daily supplementation at 200 mg of either alpha-tocopherol or the TRF, and the control group that received a placebo. Blood was drawn on days 0, 28 and 56 for several laboratory analyses. Differences in the production of IL-4 or interferon-gamma by concanavalin A-stimulated lymphocytes isolated from these volunteers were not significant (P>0.05). There were no significant differences observed in immune parameters between the healthy volunteers who received daily supplementation with either alpha-tocopherol or the TRF. As these observations were made in the absence of any immunogenic challenge, we feel it would be of benefit to study if there would be any differences observed when an immunogenic challenge such as vaccination were introduced.

Vitamin E is an important lipophilic antioxidant. The term refers to eight essential naturally occurring fat-soluble nutrients called tocopherols or tocotrienols. Among these isomers, _-tocopherol has the highest biologically active form and is found in all lipoprotein fractions. Vitamin E deficiency during pregnancy may cause miscarriage, preterm birth, preeclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction. This review highlights recent findings that have led to a better understanding of vitamin E absorption, transport, bioavailability, and its role in pregnancy, and that underline the need for re-evaluation of the potential benefits of vitamin E supplementation in pregnant women.