2014 Volume 51 Issue 2 Pages 109-117
Oxidative stress is defined as the imbalance between prooxidants and antioxidants (in favor of the pro-oxidants). Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are produced in the body continuously as a part of normal metabolism. Under normal physiological conditions a healthy balance exists between prooxidants and antioxidants. However, when the defense system gets disturbed due to fast growth, inadequate diet supply, disease, or other stressors, body is not able to synthesize the enzymes needed to destroy ROS or repair the damage. In the intensive system of poultry production birds are exposed to several stressors which may result in oxidative stress and lead to poor performance. Antioxidants in the animal body work together as the so called “antioxidant system” to prevent damaging effects of free radicals and toxic products of their metabolism. Vitamin E is considered as a very potent antioxidant in biological systems and found to be beneficial in counteracting the adverse effect of oxidative stress. The knowledge of antioxidant defense systems will serve as guiding principle for establishing most effective nutrition support to minimize oxidative stress. Such an approach will enhance bird health and welfare, product quality and will increase economic returns and the sustainability of poultry production. The current review describes the role of vitamin E as an antioxidant in alleviating oxidative stress in poultry.