Vitamin C and vitamin E (tocopherols and tocotrienols) are important antioxidants in human nutrition. Studies show that both antioxidants are essential to health and both play a similar although distinct role in protecting cells from the damage caused by free radicals. However, in order for this protection to be optimal, it is important that both antioxidants are consumed in the correct amounts because they work synergistically together. Studies have shown that vitamin E can prevent peroxidation in cell membranes but that this ability is finite and the antioxidant capacity of the vitamin diminishes with time. However providing vitamin C and vitamin E prolongs the effects of the vitamin E because the vitamin C is able to recycle the vitamin E as it becomes depleted in its efforts to prevent free radical damage. Supplemental vitamin E should always therefore be accompanied by supplemental vitamin C, and vice versa, as in isolation each vitamin has the potential to disrupt the normal antioxidant protection of cell membranes.
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