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Adv Nutr. 2014 Sep;5(5):503-14.

Vitamin E inadequacy in humans: causes and consequences.

Abstract

It is estimated that >90% of Americans do not consume sufficient dietary vitamin E, as α-tocopherol, to meet estimated average requirements. What are the adverse consequences of inadequate dietary α-tocopherol intakes? This review discusses health aspects where inadequate vitamin E status is detrimental and additional vitamin E has reversed the symptoms. In general, plasma α-tocopherol concentrations <12 μmol/L are associated with increased infection, anemia, stunting of growth, and poor outcomes during pregnancy for both the infant and the mother. When low dietary amounts of α-tocopherol are consumed, tissue α-tocopherol needs exceed amounts available, leading to increased damage to target tissues. Seemingly, adequacy of human vitamin E status cannot be assessed from circulating α-tocopherol concentrations, but inadequacy can be determined from “low” values. Circulating α-tocopherol concentrations are very difficult to interpret because, as a person ages, plasma lipid concentrations also increase and these elevations in lipids increase the plasma carriers for α-tocopherol, leading to higher circulating α-tocopherol concentrations. However, abnormal lipoprotein metabolism does not necessarily increase α-tocopherol delivery to tissues. Additional biomarkers of inadequate vitamin E status are needed. Urinary excretion of the vitamin E metabolite α-carboxy-ethyl-hydroxychromanol may fulfill this biomarker role, but it has not been widely studied with regard to vitamin E status in humans or with regard to health benefits. This review evaluated the information available on the adverse consequences of inadequate α-tocopherol status and provides suggestions for avenues for research.

PMID:
25469382
PMCID:
PMC4188222
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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