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Processing of vitamin A and E in the human gastrointestinal tract.

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Unité des Maladies Métaboliques et Micronutriments, Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, Clermont-Ferrand/Theix, 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France.


We aimed to provide basic data on the processing of vitamin A and E in the human gastrointestinal tract and to assess whether the size of emulsion fat globules affects the bioavailability of these vitamins. Eight healthy men received intragastrically two lipid formulas differing in their fat-globule median diameter (0.7 vs. 10. 1 microm. Formulas provided 28 mg vitamin A as retinyl palmitate and 440 mg vitamin E as all-rac alpha-tocopherol. Vitamins were measured in gastric and duodenal aspirates, as well as in chylomicrons, during the postprandial period. The gastric emptying rate of lipids and vitamin A and E was similar. The free retinol/total vitamin A ratio was not significantly modified in the stomach, whereas it was dramatically increased in the duodenum. The proportion of ingested lipid and vitamins was very similar in the duodenal content. The chylomicron response of lipids and vitamins was not significantly different between the two emulsions. Our main conclusions are as follows: 1) there is no significant metabolism of vitamin A and E in the human stomach, 2) the enzyme(s) present in the duodenal lumen is significantly involved in the hydrolysis of retinyl esters, and 3) the size of emulsion fat globules has no major effect on the overall absorption of vitamin A and E.

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