Insufficient vitamin E in diets must be addressed to prevent chronic disease, say researchers

By Nicola Gordon-Seymour

- Last updated on GMT

Insufficient vitamin E must be addressed, say researchers

Related tags: Vitamin e, chronic disease, Tocotrienol

The vast majority of adults are only consuming a quarter of the recommended tocotrienols, which suggests an urgent need to “popularise knowledge”, according to the authors of a Polish trial.

Tocotrienols are important antioxidants found in vitamin E that have multiple protective qualities. They exist in four different forms (alpha (α), beta (β), gamma (γ) and delta (δ)) and have “unique​” biological properties, including analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, cardioprotective, anti-cancer, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective characteristics.

However, a recent study reveals severe shortages among participants. According to data from food frequency questionnaires (FFQ), average tocotrienol intake was 2.246 mg/day in women and 2.144 mg/day in men, with adequate intake (AI) values of only 28% in woman and 21% in men.

Meanwhile, figures from 24-hour dietary records indicated average intake of 1.955 mg/day in women and 2.761 mg/day in men and AI values of 24.4% and 27.6% respectively.

These are all well below AI values necessary to achieve beneficial effects (set at 8–10 mg of a-tocopherol equivalent) and were similar to values calculated in Japan where total tocotrienols intake was 1.9 to 2.1 mg per day, the authors say.

Research method

Researchers at Warsaw University of Life Sciences conducted the trial to evaluate tocotrienol intake by comparing results from FFQ’s and dietary records, with results published in ‘Biology and Life Sciences Forum’​.

A total of 217 subjects were enrolled in the study, with subject demographic split 73% women and 27% men, and the majority aged 18-75. Most described their physical activity as moderate or high and more than 60% were considered to be of normal weight.

There were significant differences between the body mass index (BMI) between men and women, with a high percentage of malnourished women and more men carrying excess body weight.

Of the total, 43% consumed dietary supplements (more women than men) and identified as mainly being vitamin D.

Of the subjects enrolled, 202 completed the FFQ on consumption levels of 15 food categories (such as fruit, vegetables, oils, and nuts). The dietary record covered the same products but only on consumption in the 24 hours preceding the study.

A USDA database was used to calculate average consumption of isomers and tocotrienol values.

Study findings

Beta-tocotrienols have anti-cancer properties (lung and brain) and were the most abundant form in subject diets, regardless of the research method. The delta form, which has a positive influence on motor activity in Alzheimer’s disease and prevents pancreatic cancer, was consumed the least.

Data revealed significantly lower alpha and delta forms in women than men – with the former having neuroprotective and hypercholesterolemic effects to prevent strokes.

There were some disparities in results from the two methods and notably for total, delta, and gamma tocotrienols in men, and beta forms in women. Significant differences were found in all categories for the delta form.

Overall, the FFQ obtained lower total tocotrienol intake results, compared to dietary records, as a result the researchers maintain the questionnaire “requires further refinement in order to assess the intake of these compounds correctly”.

The authors assert that “due to the low proportion of tocotrienols in the diet, it seems beneficial to popularise knowledge regarding their influence on health and food sources”.

They add: “Taking the role of tocotrienols as bioactive compounds into account, it is important to conduct further research to develop a tool to assess their dietary content.”

Source: Biology and Life Sciences Forum

Published online: doi.org/10.3390/IECN2022-12397

‘Assessment of Tocotrienols Intake in Adults—A Pilot Study’

Kacper Szewczyk, Paulina Daniluk and Magdalena Górnicka

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