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Several related compounds exhibit so-called vitamin E activity. Only rare instances of proved vitamin E defi-ciency have occurred in human beings. In experimental animals, lack of vitamin E can cause degeneration of the germinal epithelium in the testis and, therefore, can cause male sterility. Lack of vitamin E can also cause resorption of a fetus after conception in the female. Because of these effects of vitamin E deficiency, vitamin E is sometimes called the “antisterility vitamin.” Defi-ciency of vitamin E prevents normal growth and some-times causes degeneration of the renal tubular cells and the muscle cells.
Vitamin E is believed to play a protective role in the prevention of oxidation of unsaturated fats. In the absence of vitamin E, the quantity of unsaturated fats in the cells becomes diminished, causing abnormal structure and function of such cellular organelles as the mitochondria, the lysosomes, and even the cell membrane.
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