Relation of Vitamin E to Intestinal Flora and the Intestinal Absorption of Tocopherol


RECENTLY, J. J. Pindborg1 reported that bacterial synthesis of vitamin E takes place in the digestive tract of the rat; and he might have cited experiments by Daft et al.2 as presumptive confirmation. In both laboratories, rats which were subjected to sulpha drug-feeding to inhibit the activity of intestinal flora developed symptoms characteristic of vitamin E deficiency—muscle degeneration in Daft's laboratory and incisor teeth abnormalities and depigmentation in Pindborg's. If, however, extra vitamin E were administered, the deficiency syndromes did not develop. Pindborg suggested that intestinal microorganisms had been synthesizing tocopherol, in amounts sufficient to meet the animals' needs, prior to the addition of sulpha drugs to the diet; afterwards, synthetic activity of the intestinal flora was diminished by the sulpha compounds, insufficient tocopherol was present in the intestinal tract, and vitamin E deficiency developed unless extra quantities of vitamin E were given as supplements.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1

    Pindborg, J. J., Nature, 164, 493 (1949).

  2. 2

    Daft, F. S., Endicott, K. M., Ashburn, L. L., and Sebrell, W. H., Proc. Soc. Exp. Biol Med., 53, 130 (1943).

  3. 3

    Hove, B. L., Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci., 52, 217 (1949).

  4. 4

    Schwarz, K., Z. physiol. Chem., 283, 186 (1948).

  5. 5

    Mason, K. E., and Filer, L. J., J. Amer. Oil Chem. Soc., 24, 240 (1947).

  6. 6

    Cuthbertson, W. F. J., Ridgeway, R. R., and Drummond, J. C., Biochem. J., 34, 34 (1940).

  7. 7

    Engel, C., and Heins, J., Acta Brevia Neerland. Physiol., Pharmacol., Microbiol., 13, 37 (1943).

  8. 8

    Hines, L. R., and Mattill, H. A., J. Biol. Chem., 149, 549 (1943).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

HARRIS, P. Relation of Vitamin E to Intestinal Flora and the Intestinal Absorption of Tocopherol. Nature 165, 572 (1950) doi:10.1038/165572a0

Download citation

Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.