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December 1980

Vitamin E and the Neonate

Author Affiliations

From the Division of Perinatal Medicine, Departments of Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale University School of Medicine and Yale-New Haven Hospital, New Haven, Conn.

Am J Dis Child. 1980;134(12):1157-1166. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1980.02130240041013

In 1922, Evans and Bishop1 demonstrated the existence of a fat-soluble dietary factor that was required for reproduction in rats. Animals deficient in this factor, which was designated vitamin E,2 ovulated and conceived normally, but fetal death and resorption occurred at some time during gestation.3 Evans and his associates4 isolated the vitamin from wheat germ oil in 1936 and proposed the name "α-tocopherol" from the Greek tokos, a noun meaning childbirth, and phero, a verb meaning to bear. The suffix, -ol, was added to indicate that the substance was an alcohol. Although eight different tocopherols with vitamin E activity have been shown to occur naturally, α-tocopherol (Fig 1) is considered to be the most important, since it possesses the greatest biological activity and comprises about 90% of the total tocopherols present in animal tissues.5 The standard unit of vitamin E activity is DL-α-tocopheryl acetate, 1