, Volume 87, Issue 5, pp 469-481
Date: 10 Feb 2010

The Antioxidant Functions of Tocopherol and Tocotrienol Homologues in Oils, Fats, and Food Systems


This review paper is focused on the relative antioxidant activities of tocopherols and tocotrienols in oils and fats and certain food systems. α-Tocopherol generally showed better antioxidant activity than γ-tocopherol in fats and oils, but at higher concentrations γ-tocopherol was found to be a more active antioxidant. The results of studies on the optimum antioxidant concentrations of tocopherols in oils and fats indicated that the optimal level for α-tocopherol is usually lower than other tocopherols, meaning less α-tocopherol is needed for maximum antioxidant protection. There are comparatively very few studies related to the antioxidant activities of tocotrienols in oils and fats. It has been stated that generally γ-tocotrienol has higher antioxidant effect than α-tocotrienol, and tocotrienols may be better antioxidants than their corresponding tocopherols in certain oils and fats systems. Studies on the antioxidant activity of various tocopherols in food systems are varied and cannot be uniformly evaluated because experiments have generally focused on different foods and used various methods for the detection of antioxidant activities. Depending on the food system, in certain cases tocopherols were better antioxidants than synthetic antioxidants such as butylhydroxy toluene (BHT) or butylhydroxy anisole (BHA). However, in certain other food systems the synthetic antioxidants were more effective to increase the shelf life and the stability of foods than those containing tocopherols.