In 1922, 100 years ago, Evans and Bishop first described a “factor X”, whose absence in the diet of female rats led to death of the foetus and its resorption. In the following decades, this factor was renamed to “Vitamin E”, isolated from natural sources, structurally elucidated, and its additional functionalities were explored. Due to its biological activity and antioxidant properties, this essential food ingredient is of great economic importance, with a market volume of more than 75.000 t/a. Its main application lies in animal nutrition, with about 85% of synthetic Vitamin E used as additives for industrially produced feed mix and only 15% going to human applications.
Vitamin E is predominantly produced by total synthesis as a mixture of eight stereoisomers of its most active form, α-tocopherol. The main market product is a 50% adsorption of the corresponding (all-rac)-α-tocopheryl acetate on silica. While synthetic Vitamin E is represented in all areas of application, semisynthetic (R,R,R)-α-tocopherol from natural sources is restricted to the pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetics sector, with a total market volume of ca. 3000 t/a.
The total synthesis of (all-rac)-α-tocopherol consists of three major parts: the preparation of the aromatic building block (trimethylhydroquinone), the production of the side chain component (isophytol, phytol or analogues), and the condensation of those two components.
We will give an overview about the history and current production methods of synthetic Vitamin E as well as challenges and current trends.
 H. M. Evans, K. S. Bishop, Science 1922, 1458, 650.  W. Bonrath, A. Wyss, G. Litta, K. U. Baldenius, L. von dem Bussche-Hünnefeld, E. Hilgemann, R. Stürmer, T. Netscher, in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2021, pp. 47–70.  W. Bonrath, H. Kroon, U. Létinois, M. Marty, O. May, M.-A. Müller, J. Schütz, B. Wüstenberg, Chimia 2021, 9, 757.