Vitamin E Needs Increases with PUFA Consumption and Greater Unsaturation

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Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2000 Mar;70(2):31-42.
Relationship between vitamin E requirement and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake in man: a review.
Valk EE1, Hornstra G.
Vitamin E is the general term for all tocopherols and tocotrienols, of which alpha-tocopherol is the natural and biologically most active form. Although gamma-tocopherol makes a significant contribution to the vitamin E CONTENT in foods, it is less effective in animal and human tissues, where alpha-tocopherol is the most effective chain-breaking lipid-soluble antioxidant. The antioxidant function of vitamin E is critical for the prevention of oxidation of tissue PUFA. Animal experiments have shown that increasing the degree of dietary fatty acid unsaturation increases the peroxidizability of the lipids and reduces the time required to develop symptoms of vitamin E deficiency. From these experiments, relative amounts of vitamin E required to protect the various fatty acids from being peroxidized, could be estimated. Since systematic studies on the vitamin E requirement in relation to PUFA consumption have not been performed in man, recommendations for vitamin E intake are based on animal experiments and human food intake data. An intake of 0.6 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents per gram linoleic acid is generally seen as adequate for human adults. The minimum vitamin E requirement at consumption of fatty acids with a higher degree of unsaturation can be calculated by a formula, which takes into account the peroxidizability of unsaturated fatty acids and is based on the results of animal experiments. There are, however, no clear data on the vitamin E requirement of humans consuming the more unsaturated fatty acids as for instance EPA (20:5, n-3) and DHA (22:6, n-3). Studies investigating the effects of EPA and DHA supplementation have shown an increase in lipid peroxidation, although amounts of vitamin E were present that are considered adequate in relation to the calculated oxidative potential of these fatty acids. Furthermore, a calculation of the vitamin E requirement, using recent nutritional intake data, shows that a reduction in total fat intake with a concomitant increase in PUFA consumption, including EPA and DHA, will result in an increased amount of vitamin E required. In addition, the methods used in previous studies investigating vitamin E requirement and PUFA consumption (for instance erythrocyte hemolysis), and the techniques used to assess lipid peroxidation (e.g. MDA analysis), may be unsuitable to establish a quantitative relation between vitamin E intake and consumption of highly unsaturated fatty acids. Therefore, further studies are required to establish the vitamin E requirement when the intake of longer-chain, more-unsaturated fatty acids is increased. For this purpose it is necessary to use functional techniques based on the measurement of lipid peroxidation in vivo. Until these data are available, the widely used ratio of at least 0.6 mg alpha-TE/g PUFA is suggested. Higher levels may be necessary, however, for fats that are rich in fatty acids containing more than two double bonds.

Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1113-22. doi: 10.1017/S000711451500272X. Epub 2015 Aug 21.
Vitamin E function and requirements in relation to PUFA.
Raederstorff D1, Wyss A1, Calder PC2, Weber P1, Eggersdorfer M1.
Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) is recognised as a key essential lipophilic antioxidant in humans protecting lipoproteins, PUFA, cellular and intra-cellular membranes from damage. The aim of this review was to evaluate the relevant published data about vitamin E requirements in relation to dietary PUFA intake. Evidence in animals and humans indicates a minimal basal requirement of 4-5 mg/d of RRR-α-tocopherol when the diet is very low in PUFA. The vitamin E requirement will increase with an increase in PUFA consumption and with the degree of unsaturation of the PUFA in the diet. The vitamin E requirement related to dietary linoleic acid, which is globally the major dietary PUFA in humans, was calculated to be 0·4-0·6 mg of RRR-α-tocopherol/g of linoleic acid. Animal studies show that for fatty acids with a higher degree of unsaturation, the vitamin E requirement increases almost linearly with the degree of unsaturation of the PUFA in the relative ratios of 0·3, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 for mono-, di-, tri-, tetra-, penta- and hexaenoic fatty acids, respectively. Assuming a typical intake of dietary PUFA, a vitamin E requirement ranging from 12 to 20 mg of RRR-α-tocopherol/d can be calculated. A number of guidelines recommend to increase PUFA intake as they have well-established health benefits. It will be prudent to assure an adequate vitamin E intake to match the increased PUFA intake, especially as vitamin E intake is already below recommendations in many populations worldwide.

Z Ernahrungswiss. 1991 Sep;30(3):174-80.
On the problematic nature of vitamin E requirements: net vitamin E.
Bässler KH1.
The requirement for vitamin E is closely related to the dietary intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). By the protective mechanism to prevent PUFA from being peroxidized, vitamin E is metabolically consumed. In addition, PUFA impair the intestinal absorption of vitamin E. Therefore PUFA generate an additional vitamin E requirement on the order of 0.6, 0.9, 1.2, 1.5, and 1.8 mg vitamin E (RRR-alpha-tocopherol-equivalents), respectively, for 1 g of dienoic, trienoic, tetraenoic, pentaenoic, and hexaenoic acid. For this reason, the gross vitamin E content of food containing PUFA does not allow an evaluation of this food as a source of vitamin E. A suitable measure is the net vitamin E content, i.e., gross vitamin E minus the amount needed for PUFA protection. Therefore, some food-stuffs generally considered as vitamin-E sources, as concluded from their gross vitamin E content, cause in reality a vitamin E deficiency if not sufficiently compensated by other vitamin E supplying food constituents. Examples of the net vitamin E content of some fats and oils, fish and nuts are shown. Consequences for food composition data and food labeling and the problem of meeting the vitamin-E requirements are discussed.

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