DSM highlights a new vitamin E study

Nearly a quarter of South Korean adults have deficient vitamin E status

DSM welcomes a newly-published paper that examines the vitamin E status of 20-59 year-old adults living in the Seoul metropolitan area of South Korea.

It is the first report on the dietary intake and status of tocopherols for a group of Korean adults. The objectives of the study were to estimate intake and plasma concentration of each tocopherol, so that a greater level of accuracy may be achieved in evaluating vitamin E status of Korean adults.

Study results concluded that although vitamin E intakes of Korean adults were generally adequate according to the Korean Dietary Reference Intakes, 23% of the subjects in the current study were vitamin E deficient based on plasma alpha-tocopherol concentrations, and additional 67% had a plasma level in the suboptimal range.

The results show that at 3.07mg/day, intakes of alpha-tocopherol; the form of vitamin E most preferentially absorbed in humans, are much lower than that reported in other countries.

In comparison, Japanese adults reported a daily alpha-tocopherol intake of 6.6-7.1mg, and American adults indicated an alpha-tocopherol intake of 5.9-8.8mg according to the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) US.

Vitamin E deficiency and inadequate status may increase risk of several chronic diseases, and studies have shown that inadequate vitamin E intake might be associated with risk of heart disease, type II diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Trials to investigate the benefits of vitamin E against symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease showed that vitamin E treated patients exhibited a slower functional decline, when compared with subjects that received the placebo. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in preventing the peroxidation of lipids and oxidation of proteins, and can overcome the issue of fatty liver in certain patient groups. The European Commission has authorised an Article 13.1 health claim stating that 'vitamin E contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.'

As part of the study, blood samples from 106 healthy adults were taken, and the intake of a number of compounds, fatty acids and vitamin E was calculated. The Korean food composition table reports vitamin E contents in foods only as alpha-tocopherol equivalent (alpha-TE) without each tocopherol content, so the dietary intake and plasma concentration of each alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocopherol in the study were estimated using alternative values. Dietary intakes of vitamin E were then compared with the Adequate Intakes (AIs) for Koreans.

Results showed that 12.3% of all subjects consumed less vitamin E than the AI, and 89.6% had alpha-tocopherol levels that were less than 20µmol/L; the concentration below which there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease .

James Bauly, Marketing Director Asia Pacific, DSM Nutritional Products Human Nutrition and Health, comments: 'Vitamin E intakes of Korean adults are generally adequate compared with the Korean Daily Reference Intakes (DRIs). However, the alpha-tocopherol intake was lower than those of other countries, and if only alpha-tocopherol is considered, then the intake of many subjects in the present study may be inadequate.'

'Further research regarding the bioavailability of tocopherols and tocotrienols in South Korea is needed to determine whether the current vitamin E unit in South Korea is appropriate. The study is another example that we cannot take adequate vitamin intake for granted even in apparently healthy or affluent populations, and highlights the importance of good, balanced nutrition, which may be complemented by a supplement if required,' he added.

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