The Vitamin E (tocopherol) molecule in 3-D

The Vitamin E (tocopherol) molecule - rotatable in 3 dimensions

Vitamin E (tocopherol and related compounds)

This molecule is alpha tocopherol - with 3 methyl groups. Beta tocopherol has 2 (5 & 8), tau tocopherol has 2 (7 & 8), delta tocopherol has 1 (8). Show numbers on ring. The hydroxyl group gives antioxidant properties, by capturing free radicals, and becomes converted into a quinone. Vitamin E quinone also acts as an anticoagulant, preventing blood clotting.

There are several similar compounds. The tocotrienols share the same ring structure, but have an unsaturated tail (with 3 double bonds). Both tocopherols and tocotrienols can have from 1 to 3 methyl groups on the aromatic ring.

The side chain is an isoprenoid chain. Interestingly, it can be traced back to a phytyl group attached to chlorophyll which is removed when plant material is digested by herbivores.

Label/ Unlabel atoms