diabetes functional medicineNew research published two days ago in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that approximately one-third of Americans who have metabolic syndrome don’t absorb dietary vitamin E as effectively as healthy individuals. It is estimated that 35% of Americans have metabolic syndrome, which is characterized of having at least three of the following characteristics: excess belly fat, elevated blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol, elevated fasting blood glucose and/or high triglycerides.

Researchers expected to see that individuals with metabolic syndrome having a lower bioavailability of vitamin E, however, it was never studied before and there was no guidance to recommendations for this population. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant that is essential to overall health.

This study reveals that at least one third of Americans have higher vitamin E requirements than healthy individuals, therefore, vitamin E can be viewed as a conditionally essential nutrient for patients with metabolic syndrome.

Since obesity is a characteristic of metabolic syndrome, many of these individuals try various diets specifically cutting fats. This further leads to the problem since many healthy fat containing foods are the best dietary sources of vitamin E, such as almonds, sunflower seeds, and avocados.

These patients should be properly advised with proper dietary recommendations without hindering their vitamin E intake.

In addition, previous research has shown that we only absorb about 10 % a vitamin E supplement if it is consumed without any fat. The bioavailability is significantly higher taken with a fat containing meal or taken in a softgel, so it can carried in with a fat (ie. medium chain triglyceride).

Serious side effects caused by vitamin E deficiency are rare, but a significant percentage of the population have suboptimal levels that can impact their overall health and contribute to chronic disease states.

Researchers suspect that individuals with metabolic syndrome may have an impairment of vitamin E absorption at the small intestine or an inability for vitamin E to get out of the liver or possibly a combination of the two.

Many labs can assess fat-soluble vitamins. This may be considered for patients with metabolic syndrome.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN

Source: E. Mah, T. Sapper, C Chitchumroonchokchai, M. Failla, K, Schill, S. Clinton, G, Bobe, M. Traber, R. Bruno. α-Tocopherol bioavailability is lower in adults with metabolic syndrome regardless of dairy fat co-ingestion: a randomized, double-blind, crossover trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, October 2015.

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