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DSM proposes adaptations to vitamin E intake requirements to meet the needs of modern lifestyles

Kaiseraugst, CH, 06 Feb 2014 10:15 CET

The conclusions of a workshop led by DSM to address the challenges of setting appropriate intake recommendations for vitamin E have been published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research1. The paper, which outlines a concept for the appropriate assessment of vitamin E status and functionality in order to define desirable vitamin E requirements, is part of the global nutritional ingredient supplier’s ongoing commitment to advance research into the essential micronutrient.

Vitamin E is a generic term for eight fat-soluble compounds found in nature, of which ‘alpha-tocopherol’ is the most abundant in the human body. Its major biological function is as a powerful antioxidant, preventing the propagation of free-radical reactions. The European Commission has authorized an Article 13.1 health claim stating that ‘vitamin E contributes to the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage’. It also has non-antioxidant functions in cell signaling, gene expression and regulation of other cell functions. In addition, it contributes to healthy blood flow by regulating the opening of blood vessels and preventing cholesterol from building up on blood vessel walls.

It is currently estimated that more than three-quarters of the population in developed countries such as the United States (US) do not meet the dietary intake recommendations for vitamin E. The recommended daily intake of vitamin E varies according to the age, sex and criteria applied in individual countries and is typically based on historic data. In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has established Reference Daily Intakes (RDIs) for vitamins and minerals which serve as the reference standards for the ‘percent daily value (%DV)’ that appears on a food/supplement product label. The RDI values are based largely on recommendations dating back to 1968 and, while the RDI are often close to Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommendations for Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) and adequate intake (AI), they do not always match. 

The RDA for adults is 15mg RRR-a-tocopherol/day (FNB, 2000) in the US. In Europe, adult recommendations range from 4 to 25mg a-tocopherol equivalents (a-TE)/day for men and from 3 to 12mg a-TE/day for women. There is research to suggest that the RDA should be up to 30mg a-TE/day and DSM recommends that the existing guidelines are reviewed in the light of the latest studies.

The required vitamin E intakes have been challenged over the past decade, following inconsistent study outcomes and subsequent media coverage,” explains Dr. Manfred Eggersdorfer, SVP Nutrition Science & Advocacy, DSM Nutritional Products. “In fact, vitamin E is essential as it is a key element in cell membranes to protect polyunsaturated fatty acids from oxidation. It offers numerous benefits to brain, eye, cardiovascular, maternal and infant health and also plays an important role in maintaining the immune system, especially in the elderly. 

“The impact of low vitamin E levels globally is a serious public health concern, yet the micronutrient is not currently high on the agenda of scientists and funding organizations. New studies into the role of vitamin E in the human body have been limited in recent years, but DSM is committed to advancing research. Topics that are currently being addressed as part of our scientific program include the molecular and genetic effects of vitamin E and the potential for vitamin E to stabilize nutritional lipids like DHA and EPA, as well as an ongoing human study to evaluate vitamin E requirements. It should be noted that nutritional lipids such as polyunsaturated fatty acids have numerous health benefits. This means that increased consumption is recommended and this also requires a higher intake of vitamin E to protect the lipids from oxidative damage.

“Fatty liver and overweight- and obesity-related conditions are key public health issues on a global scale. DSM is calling on consumers, healthcare professionals, scientists and governments to take note of emerging science, which demonstrates that vitamin E supplementation can reduce the risk of the negative health implications of fatty liver,” adds Dr. Peter Weber, Corporate Scientist Human Nutrition, DSM Nutritional Products. “As it is difficult to obtain the required amount of vitamin E through diet alone, this presents new and as yet untapped opportunities to dietary supplement manufacturers.”

1 S. Péter, U. Moser, S. Pilz, M. Eggersdorfer and P. Weber, ‘The Challenge of Setting Appropriate Intake Recommendations for Vitamin E: Considerations on Status and Functionality to Define Nutrient Requirements,’ Int. J. Vitam. Nutr. Res. 83 (2/13) (2013)