Blood Fats Hold Vitamin E Captive, Study Shows

Less than one-third of antioxidant makes it to where it's needed

FRIDAY, March 20, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- High levels of blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides can hold vitamin E in the blood and prevent it from reaching the tissues that require it, a small study says.

The findings suggest that checking only blood levels of vitamin E may not show whether a person has adequate levels of vitamin E, the researchers said. They also suggested that past methods used to measure vitamin E levels in tissues are flawed.

The study included 41 young and older adult women and men who ate collard greens treated with a chemical that enabled the researchers to track vitamin E as it moved through the participants' bodies.

"In simple terms, we believe that less than one-third the amount of vitamin E is actually making it to the tissues where it's most needed," study author Maret Traber, a professor for micronutrient research at Oregon State University, said in a university news release.

"People with elevated [fats] in their blood plasma are facing increased inflammation as a result. Almost every tissue in their body is under oxidative attack, and needs more vitamin E," Traber said. "But the vitamin E needed to protect these tissues is stuck on the freeway, in the circulatory system. It's going round and round instead of getting to the tissues where it's needed."

The study was published recently in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The research is important because more than 90 percent of Americans who don't take vitamin E supplements lack the recommended amount of the vitamin in their diet, according to Traber and colleagues. Common dietary sources of vitamin E include cooking oils and some vegetables.

The researchers explained that vitamin E plays an important role in artery walls, the brain, liver, eyes and skin, but it is essential in nearly every tissue in the body.

More information

The Harvard School of Public Health has more about vitamin E and health.

Robert Preidt

Robert Preidt

Published on March 20, 2015

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