Vitamin K level not Vitamin E could be to blame for cancer links: Symposium

By Shane STARLING in Stuttgart, Germany

- Last updated on GMT

Professor Maret Traber from the US Linus Pauling Institute presents her findings in Stuttgart this morning
Professor Maret Traber from the US Linus Pauling Institute presents her findings in Stuttgart this morning

Related tags Nutrition

Diminished levels of vitamin K forms - not high levels of vitamin E - could be the key factor in prostate cancer links, a Stuttgart symposium has heard today.

The heavily criticised research linking vitamin E and cancer has damaged the sector, but professor Maret Traber from the US Linus Pauling Institute told the symposium study into vitamin K and vitamin E levels and interactions was shedding light on the issue.

"There has been a huge vitamin E backlash due to study links to cancer and more,"​ professor Traber said.

She suggested "those adverse effects have nothing to do with vitamin E and everything to do with inadequate vitamin K".

She noted the molecular structure of certain vitamin E and vitamin K forms was very similar, which may have caused some analytical confusion.

Research into the interaction and regulation of the two fat-soluble vitamins in different bodily centres like the brain and liver was required.

"Vitamin K is huge in the brain. But nobody is researching it."

She wondered: "Is decreased vitamin K due to increased vitamin E and metabolites in bile?"

In an earlier presentation, professor Jan Frank from the University of Hohenheim where the symposium is taking place, noted vitamin E forms like the tocopherol family, particularly alpha-tocopherol could play a role in healthy microbiome regulation.

Professor Gabriele Cruciani from the University of Perugia in Italy said vitamin E had potential to reduce some drug side effects.

His research had revealed: "Many protein structures have similar cavities where nutrients like vitamin E can act."

Cruciani's Perugia colleague, professor Francesco Galli said vitamin E research had shown results in epilepsy.

DSM Nutritional Products senior VP of nutrition science and advocacy, professor Manfred Eggersdorfer noted intake deficiencies in places like the US, the UK, South Korea, Germany and the Netherlands. He called for greater funding of vitamin E research in areas like Alzheimer's.

DSM advocates vitamin E consumption that results in 30 umol/L as measured in the blood as being optimum. At this status research showed heart disease onset likelihood was reduced, along with cognitive decline and some cancers, said professor Eggersdorfer, who is also professor of healthy ageing at the University Medical Centre Groningen in the Netherlands.

Globally, recommended levels vary between 3 and 15 mg per day from all food and supplement sources, with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) setting an adequate
adequate intake level of 13 mg/day for adult males and 11 mg for women for alpha-tocopherol. Previously it recommended a range that encompassed these values.

"How can an organisation like EFSA change recommendation by 1 mg and move from a range to a specific amount?"​ Eggersdorfer wondered.

Recommended intakes should take into account polyunsaturated fatty acid status, he said.

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