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Vitamins are defined as essential micronutrients that are required in trace quantity and cannot always be synthesized by mammals.
Apart from their in vivo nutritional and physiological roles as growth factors for men, animals, plants and microorganisms, vitamins are now being increasingly introduced as food/feed additives, as medical-therapeutic agents, as health aids, and also as technical aids.
Most of the vitamins are now industrially produced and widely used in foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
Vitamin E comprises a group of lipid-soluble compounds, among which alfa-tocopherol is the most abundant and has the highest antioxidant activity in vivo.
Currently alfa-tocopherol is obtained by chemical synthesis and by extraction from vegetable oils.
In the purification/separation proces ion exchange and more specific chromatografic separation is being used.