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DSM responds to EFSA review of vitamin E Dietary Reference Values

Kaiseraugst, CH, 15 Jul 2015 14:00 CEST

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that the current Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) of vitamin E should be replaced by a newly defined Adequate Intake (AI). DSM is responding to this by highlighting the most recent scientific studies not broadly recognized yet, as well as emphasizing that more research into the micronutrient is needed to precisely define the vitamin E requirement in humans. In particular, this includes the role of vitamin E in protecting polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) from being oxidized in cell membranes and the beneficial effect of adequate blood levels of vitamin E on cardiovascular health. The new research suggests that individual requirements vary in view of the critical interactions between vitamin E and PUFAs and differ for specific groups, such as pregnant and lactating women, as well as being dependent on factors such as age.

Whilst we appreciate the work carried out by the EFSA panel in reviewing the Dietary Reference Values (DRV) for vitamin E, it is important to consider all scientific evidence when defining the value. This should include recent research that had been accepted by other well recognized agencies, such as the Institute of Medicine in the US and the D-A-CH report for Germany, Austria and Switzerland,” explains Prof. Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice-President, Nutrition Science & Advocacy at DSM and Professor for Healthy Ageing at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands.

“Achieving an optimal status of vitamin E is associated with a number of positive health benefits. Outcomes from the main epidemiological studies show a risk reduction of 24% for cardiovascular events, when comparing high versus low vitamin E concentrations. These results suggest a beneficial effect of vitamin E at a plasma concentration of 30 μmol/L. An increase of the intake recommendation would secure that the general population can reach this status.1

The recommended daily intake of vitamin E varies according to the age, gender and criteria applied in individual countries. In the European Union, adult recommendations previously ranged from 4 to 25mg a-tocopherol equivalents (a-TE)/day for men and from 3 to 12mg a-TE/day for women. The German-speaking countries (D-A-CH, 2013) have only recently set the recommendation at 12-15mg alpha-TE/day for men and 11-12 mg alpha-TE/day for women according to age. As part of its written response to the EFSA panel, DSM highlighted results from a number of observational, prospective studies which suggest that a serum tocopherol concentration of 30μmol/L and above has beneficial effects on human health in the field of cardiovascular disease and some cancers23456.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and carries an approved EFSA health claim for ‘contributing to the protection of cells from oxidative stress7.’ Emerging data also suggest that vitamin E in higher doses holds promise beyond these recognized benefits of vitamin E as an essential nutrient. For selected individuals and population groups, vitamin E is understood to help maintain cognitive function in those at risk of Alzheimer’s disease8 and to help maintain liver and lung function in individuals who are overweight9 or exposed to air pollution10.

Intake of vitamin E is generally low in Europe. For example, the results of a micronutrient intake panel demonstrated that more than 75% of the population in the UK does not meet the recommended intake11,” adds Prof. Eggersdorfer. “With individual needs varying depending on factors such as age, it may be more appropriate to consider a range of values rather than a fixed intake requirement.”

1 Ibid.
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11 Troesch, B., et al., ‘Dietary surveys indicate vitamin intakes below recommendations are common in representative Western countries.’ British Journal of Nutrition, 2012. 108(04): p. 692-698.