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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Another Study Reports Inadequate Vitamin E Intake

By Michael McBurney

Zhao and colleagues assessed dietary adequacy and plasma vitamin E (α-tocopherol and ϒ-tocopherol) concentrations in the plasma of Irish adults. Food sources were not sufficient. Two-thirds of women were not consuming recommended amounts of vitamin E. Supplementation was important, contributing 29% of their vitamin E. People who didn’t supplement with vitamin E had much lower plasma α-tocopherol concentrations.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin. Because of its protective role, vitamin E is co-localized with fats in plants (nuts, endosperm of grains, vegetable oils, butter) and the fatty acid-rich membranes surrounding cells in the body. Of the differing vitamin E forms, α-tocopherol form has the highest biologic activity in the body, is the only form retained in the body, and is the form recommended to meet our vitamin E requirement.

The vitamin E requirement was based on intakes needed to maintain α-tocopherol concentrations to support normal function. Vitamin E is the main fat-soluble antioxidant in the body, including the brain. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and vitamin E are essential to maintain the structure function of the brain.

Vitamin E is a forgotten, overlooked nutrient. Despite the fact  >90% of Americans do not consume Institute of Medicine recommended intakes, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees did not include vitamin E among the ‘nutrients of concern’ (potassium, dietary fiber, calcium and vitamin D). Low vitamin E intake and suboptimal α-tocopherol concentrations appear to be problematic in Ireland too.

Our cells in our body, including our liver and heart, require vitamin E for normal function.  It is time for a reinvestment in vitamin E.

Main Citation

Zhao Y , Monahan FJ, McNulty BA, Gibney MJ, Gibney ER. Effect of vitamin E intake from food and supplement sources on plasma α- and ϒ-tocopherol concentrations in a healthy Irish adult population. 2014 Br J Nutr doi: 10.1017/S0007114514002438

Other Citations

Traber MG. Vitamin E inadequacy in humans: Causes and consequences. 2014 Adv Nutr doi: 10.3945/an.114.006254

Ji H-F, Sun Y, Shen L. Effect of vitamin E supplementation on aminotransferase levels in patients with NAFLD, NASH, and CHC: Results for a meta-analysis. 2014 Nutr doi: 10.1016/j.nut.2014.01.016

Wright ME, Lawson KA, Weinstein SJ, Pietinen P, Taylor PR, Virtamo J, Albanes D. Higher baseline serum concentrations of vitamin E are associated with lower total and cause-specific mortality in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study. 2006 Am J Clin Nutr 84(5):1200-1207

McBurney M, Yu E, Ciappio E, Bird J, Eggersdorfer M, Stoecklin E, Mehta S. Vitamin E status of the US adult population by use of dietary supplements (1041.7). 2014 FASEB J. 28(1) 1041.7