DSM highlights the role of nutrition in a targeted approach to metabolic syndrome at FENS


Although metabolic syndrome is an increasingly worrying concern, it can be delayed or treated with targeted nutrition

DSM hosted a satellite symposium alongside the 12th European Nutrition Conference, FENS, last week, to discuss the role of micronutrients, including vitamin E and omega-3s, in a targeted approach to address the risk factors in metabolic syndrome.

The condition has a high prevalence around the globe and encompasses numerous health risks, such as obesity, high blood pressure and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Through the communication of cutting-edge research, the event demonstrated that nutrition-associated solutions can play a major role in tackling these key global health concerns.

The programme included talks by various scientists and nutritionists from leading European universities. The discussion highlighted that while metabolic syndrome is an increasingly worrying concern, it can be delayed or treated with targeted nutrition. For example, NAFLD can be reversed rapidly by strict caloric restriction and control, as well as increased vitamin E intake owing to its antioxidant function.

Omega-3s have been shown to address NAFLD and lipid disorders, such as high triglyceride level, which increases the risk of heart disease. The presentations also demonstrated that genotype can play an important role in the way the body processes micronutrients. For example, in hypertensives with a particular mutation of an enzyme involved in folate metabolism, provision of riboflavin (vitamin B2) can compensate for this genetic variation and contribute to lower blood pressure. Carriers of this genotype have higher blood pressure throughout life, compared with matched controls.

An estimated 34% of US adults have metabolic syndrome, putting them additionally at higher risk of heart disease, stroke and damaged blood vessels. A recent study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, examined vitamin E absorption in adults with metabolic syndrome and demonstrated that they absorbed and transported vitamin E in the circulation poorly.

While the healthy adults absorbed up to 29.5% of the vitamin E dose (15mg), those with metabolic syndrome processed only 26.1%. The study further showed that people with metabolic syndrome not only had limited absorption of vitamin E, its distribution to the tissues from the bloodstream was slowed. These findings suggest adults with metabolic syndrome must consume more vitamin E to achieve adequate status. Importantly, because adverse consequences of liver disease can be slowed by high vitamin E intakes, poor vitamin E status may lead to greater secondary consequence of metabolic syndrome.

Richard Bruno, professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University and lead author of the study comments: 'Obesity is one of the risk factors of metabolic syndrome and these individuals are advised to alter the diet to improve overall health. People tend to cut out fats for weight loss, however these foods often contain vitamin E, and therefore result in reduced intake of this micronutrient. This further exacerbates the problem that more than 90% of Americans fail to consume the recommended amount of vitamin E on a daily basis. We need to determine specific recommendation for those afflicted with metabolic syndrome, as a higher intake is required to achieve the desired health benefits.'

Maret Traber, Helen P. Rumbel Professor for Micronutrient Research and Director of Oxidative/Nitrative Stress Core Laboratory in the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University and co-author of the paper, comments: 'Further research is required into what prevents individuals with metabolic syndrome from achieving optimal vitamin E status, but it is likely due to greater inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, causing increased breakdown of vitamin E. Higher vitamin E intake is required to achieve its antioxidant protection, which may help to prevent or delay the onset of the disease risks associated with the condition.'

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Dr Manfred Eggersdorfer, Senior Vice President, Nutrition Science and Advocacy at DSM and Professor for Healthy Ageing at Groningen University says: 'The targeted approach in nutrition to address risk factors in metabolic syndrome is overlooked and underestimated. There is encouraging data that micronutrients, such as vitamin E, can beneficially impact the onset and course of NAFLD and other disease risks associated with metabolic syndrome.'