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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Could Trends in Metabolic Syndrome be Associated with Vitamin E Status?

By Michael McBurney

Good news! Nationally representative data collected between 1999 and 2012 finds a reduction in the severity of metabolic syndrome among US adolescents. It was a linear trend. Interestingly, increasing unsaturated fat intake was beneficial. You may ask why.

Vitamin E is found in many foods (in small quantities) but most often in association with unsaturated fats – vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds – to protect them from oxidation. In brief, people eating more unsaturated fat will likely be consuming more vitamin E.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of disorders. The risk of metabolic syndrome increases as people become overweight. Non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) is a characteristic of metabolic syndrome.

Body mass index, waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, triglyceride, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase levels are all known to affect NAFLD independently. There is no known medical treatment for NAFLD but vitamin E supplementation improved outcomes in patients with liver disease.

The vitamin E requirement for adults is 15 mg daily. The  average person consumes about half (7.5 mg) of this amount daily. 93% of young American adults have suboptimal vitamin E status.

Dr Danny Manor, associate professor at Case Western Reserve University, has suggested that suboptimal vitamin E intake could directly impact the lives of approximately 63 million Americans at risk of obesity-related liver disease. In 2015, an EFSA Scientific Panel concluded that all forms of vitamin E are safe and set an upper limit of 300 mg per day.

What is your vitamin E status?

Main Citation

Lee AM, Gurka MJ, DeBoer MD. Trends in metabolic syndrome severity and lifestyle factors among adolescents. 2016 Pediatr doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-3177

Other Citations

Marchesini G, Bugianesi E, Forlani G, Cerrelli F, Lenzi M, Manini R, Natale S, Vanni E, Villanova N, Melchionda N, Rizzetto M. Nonalcoholic fatty liver, steatohepatitis, and the metabolic syndrome. 2003 Hepatol doi: 10.1053/het.2003.50161

Sohn KM, Jeon YJ, Nam H, Noh HJ, Kwon MJ, Kim YM. Relation of risk factors between metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in young adults. 2015 The Liverweek PE-049

Sanyal AJ, Chalasani N, Kowdley KV, McCullough A, Diehl AM, Bass NM, Neuschander-Tetri BA, Lavine JE, Tonascia J, Unalp A, Van Natta M, Clark J, Brunt EM, Kleiner DE, Hoofnagle JH, Robuck PR. And for the NASH CRN. 2010 NEJM doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa0907929

McBurney MI, Yu EA, Ciappio ED, Bird JK, Eggersdorfer M, Mehta S. Suboptimal serum α-tocopherol concentrations observed among younger adults and those depending exclusively upon food sources, NHANES 2003-2006. 2015 PLoS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0135510

Scientific Opinion on the re-evaluation of tocopherol-rich extract (E 306), α-tocopherol (E 307), γ-tocopherol (E 308) and δ-tocopherol (E 309) as food additives. 2015 EFSA J doi: 10.2903.j.efsa.2015.4247