Paper examines potential vitamin deficiency
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are naturally found in their highest quantities in foods such as plant oils, nuts, seeds and oily fish. According to a new paper published by DSM in the British Journal of Nutrition today, the more PUFAs that we consume the more additional dietary vitamin-E we will require to maintain the correct balance. According to the manuscript a high intake of PUFAs accompanied by a very low intake of vitamin E may lead to symptoms of vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) is recognized as a key essential lipophilic antioxidant in humans, and plays a key role in protecting lipoproteins and cellular and intracellular membranes from damage. The paper highlights that the presence of vitamin E is of key importance in cellular membranes rich in highly unsaturated fatty acids such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). It has been shown that when vitamin E accumulates in DHA-rich, rather unstructured domains, it stabilizes the membrane and protects DHA from oxidative damage.
Current daily vitamin E intakes are below recommended levels in more than 90% of North Americans as well as in some European countries. To quantify the vitamin E need, a basal vitamin E level plus an additional vitamin E requirement for dietary PUFAs is often considered. PUFAs are involved in a wide range of processes that are related to physical and mental health in humans, including brain and visual functioning throughout the life course.
Dr Daniel Raederstorff, principal scientist, DSM Nutritional Products, Human Nutrition & Health, says:
“The ratio of vitamin E to PUFA in the human diet is critical and requires deeper examination. However, so far, there has been no consensus on the exact vitamin E to PUFA ratio to determine the vitamin requirement, as it might not be applicable to all types of diet and health status.”
The published human data for a diet with an average content of PUFAs indicates that the additional vitamin E requirement ranges from 0.4 to 0.6 mg RRR-α-tocopherol/g of PUFA in the diet. Using the proposed average of 0.5 mg, the estimated requirement for vitamin E varied from 12 to 20 mg/day for a typical range of dietary PUFA intake.
 Atkinson J, Harroun T, Wassall SR, Stillwell W, Katsaras J. The location and behavior of alpha-tocopherol in membranes. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2010;54(5):641-51. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.200900439.
 Troesch B, Hoeft B, McBurney M, Eggersdorfer M, Weber P. Dietary surveys indicate vitamin intakes below recommendations are common in representative Western countries. Br. J. Nutr. 2012;108(4):692-8. doi: 10.1017/s0007114512001808.