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Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jan;83(1):95-102.

Supplementation with mixed tocopherols increases serum and blood cell gamma-tocopherol but does not alter biomarkers of platelet activation in subjects with type 2 diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Core Clinical Pathology and Biochemistry, Royal Perth Hospital, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.



Some studies have shown potential benefit of vitamin E on platelet function, but several clinical trials failed to show improved cardiovascular outcome with alpha-tocopherol supplementation. Gamma-tocopherol, a major dietary form of vitamin E, may have protective properties different from those of alpha-tocopherol.


We compared the effects of supplementation with alpha-tocopherol (500 mg) and a gamma-tocopherol-rich compound (500 mg, containing 60% gamma-tocopherol) on serum and cellular tocopherol concentrations, urinary tocopherol metabolite excretion, and in vivo platelet activation in subjects with type 2 diabetes.


Fifty-eight subjects were randomly assigned to receive either 500 mg alpha-tocopherol/d, 500 mg mixed tocopherols/d, or matching placebo. Serum, erythrocyte, and platelet tocopherol and urinary metabolite concentrations were measured at baseline and after the 6-wk intervention. Soluble CD40 ligand, urinary 11-dehydro-thromboxane B2, serum thromboxane B2, soluble P-selectin, and von Willebrand factor were measured as biomarkers of in vivo platelet activation.


Serum alpha-tocopherol increased with both tocopherol treatments. Serum and cellular gamma-tocopherol increased 4-fold (P < 0.001) in the mixed tocopherol group, whereas red blood cell gamma-tocopherol decreased significantly after alpha-tocopherol supplementation. Excretion of alpha-carboxyethyl-hydroxychroman increased significantly after supplementation with alpha-tocopherol and mixed tocopherols. Excretion of gamma-carboxyethyl-hydroxychroman increased significantly after supplementation with mixed tocopherols and after that with alpha-tocopherol, which may reflect the displacement of gamma-tocopherol by alpha-tocopherol due to incorporation of the latter into lipoproteins in the liver. Neither treatment had any significant effect on markers of platelet activation.


Supplementation with alpha-tocopherol decreased red blood cell gamma-tocopherol, whereas mixed tocopherols increased both serum alpha-tocopherol and serum and cellular gamma-tocopherol. Changes in serum tocopherol closely reflect changes in cellular concentrations of tocopherols after supplementation.

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