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Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 May;71(5):1187-93.

Amount of fat in the diet affects bioavailability of lutein esters but not of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and vitamin E in humans.

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Unilever Health Institute, Unilever Research Vlaardingen, Vlaardingen, Netherlands.



Fat-soluble vitamin E and carotenoids are regarded as being protective against chronic diseases. Little is known about the effect of dietary fat on the bioavailability of these compounds.


The objective of this study was to assess the effect of the amount of dietary fat on plasma concentrations of vitamin E and carotenoids after supplementation with these compounds.


During two 7-d periods, 4 groups of 14-15 volunteers received daily, with a low-fat hot meal, 1 of 4 different supplements: vitamin E (50 mg), alpha- plus beta-carotene (8 mg), lutein esters (8 mg lutein), or placebo. The supplements were provided in a low- or high-fat spread supplied in random sequence during either of the 2 experimental periods.


As anticipated, plasma concentrations of vitamin E, alpha- and beta-carotene, and lutein were significantly higher in the supplemented groups than in the placebo group. The amount of dietary fat consumed with the hot meal (3 or 36 g) did not affect the increases in plasma concentrations of vitamin E (20% increase with the low-fat spread and 23% increase with the high-fat spread) or alpha- and beta-carotene (315% and 139% with the low-fat spread and 226% and 108% with the high-fat spread). The plasma lutein response was higher when lutein esters were consumed with the high-fat spread (207% increase) than with the low-fat spread (88% increase).


Optimal uptake of vitamin E and alpha- and beta-carotene requires a limited amount of fat whereas the amount of fat required for optimal intestinal uptake of lutein esters is higher. 2000;71:-93.

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