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Br J Nutr. 2004 Oct;92(4):575-9.

The absorption of vitamin E is influenced by the amount of fat in a meal and the food matrix.

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Centre for Nutrition and Food Safety, School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK.


Vitamin E absorption requires the presence of fat; however, limited information exists on the influence of fat quantity on optimal absorption. In the present study we compared the absorption of stable-isotope-labelled vitamin E following meals of varying fat content and source. In a randomised four-way cross-over study, eight healthy individuals consumed a capsule containing 150 mg (2)H-labelled RRR-alpha-tocopheryl acetate with a test meal of toast with butter (17.5 g fat), cereal with full-fat milk (17.5 g fat), cereal with semi-skimmed milk (2.7 g fat) and water (0 g fat). Blood was taken at 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 3, 6 and 9 h following ingestion, chylomicrons were isolated, and (2)H-labelled alpha-tocopherol was analysed in the chylomicron and plasma samples. There was a significant time (P<0.001) and treatment effect (P<0.001) in (2)H-labelled alpha-tocopherol concentration in both chylomicrons and plasma between the test meals. (2)H-labelled alpha-tocopherol concentration was significantly greater with the higher-fat toast and butter meal compared with the low-fat cereal meal or water (P<0.001), and a trend towards greater concentration compared with the high-fat cereal meal (P=0.065). There was significantly greater (2)H-labelled alpha-tocopherol concentration with the high-fat cereal meal compared with the low-fat cereal meal (P<0.05). The (2)H-labelled alpha-tocopherol concentration following either the low-fat cereal meal or water was low. These results demonstrate that both the amount of fat and the food matrix influence vitamin E absorption. These factors should be considered by consumers and for future vitamin E intervention studies.

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