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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Only a Fifth of the Global Population Achieves Optimal Vitamin E Status

By Manfred Eggersdorfer

A new study, published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, shows that vitamin E status is inadequate in a high proportion of the global population. Only 21% of the studied population groups reach an adequate serum level. The assessment is the first of its kind to review over 170 publications worldwide on studies into vitamin E intake levels and serum concentrations.

What did the study find?

This systematic review suggests that the vitamin E (α-tocopherol) status is inadequate in a substantial part of the studied populations. The majority of reported intake values worldwide are below the recommended levels.

The study also found that vitamin E intake differed regionally. People living in the Middle East and Africa (27%) were more likely to be consuming below the Recommended Daily Allowance of 15mg/day. The prevalence was relatively high in Asia Pacific (16%) and Europe (8%). Considering the adequate level recommended by experts (30 µmol/L), 27% of American, 80% of the Middle East/African, 62% of the Asian, and 19% of the European populations are below this serum value. On the other hand, only 21% of the population groups included in this global review reach the desired level. This can be explained by varying diets and nutrient availability across the world.

Why is vitamin E important?

Vitamin E is an essential micronutrient that protects cell membranes from oxidative damage, including those rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). The higher the level of PUFA intake, the more vitamin E is required. An adequate vitamin E intake may support the immune system, cognitive function, cardiovascular health and liver function.

How can the vitamin E status be improved?

The findings of this review help stimulate much needed research to understand the complex field of vitamin E and its impact on human health. The results are an important tool to generate awareness on the high number of people around the world that do not consume the recommended amount of vitamin E. Health authorities need to dedicate more attention to the intake, status and role of vitamin E in human health.

Vitamin E status can be increased by eating more foods high in vitamin E, such as vegetable oils, green vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grain bread. Fortified foods and beverages, as well as dietary supplements, are convenient ways to complement dietary shortfalls.


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