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Definition of Tocotrienol

Vitamin E is one of the most important phytonutrients in edible oils. It consists of eight naturally occuring isomers, a family of four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma and delta) homologues.


All the eight isomers share some important traits:

The head, or chroman ring in technical term

The tail, which is called the phytyl tail for tocopherols

The active group on the head of the molecule, which is called the hydroxy group



The chroman ring has chemical groups which are called methyl groups attached to it. Alpha has all three available sites filled while beta and gamma have two methyl groups but in different positions. Whereas delta has only one.

The tocotrienol tail has three double bonds while the tocopherol tail has none. In the chemical parlance, bonds are the forces that keep atoms together. A single bond means the atoms share two electrons, a double bond means they share four electrons.

The structural name for alpha-tocopherol is 2,5,7,8-tetramethyl-2-(4',8',12'-trimethyltridecyl)-6-chromanol.

The structural name for alpha-tocotrienol is 2,5,7,8-tetramethyl-2-(4',8',12'-trimethyltrideca-3',7',11'-trienyl)-6- chromanol.