New research indicates that patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS) may need significantly more vitamin E than healthy patients, and that conventional blood tests may not provide an accurate measure of vitamin E levels. These findings come from a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

In this study, twenty adults (10 with MetS; 10 healthy) co-ingested 15mg of hexadeuterium-labeled α-tocopherol with nonfat, reduced fat, whole or soy milk, at four time periods. Researchers then measured the urinary vitamin E metabolite excretion levels in 8-h urine collections.

The amount of micronutrient that was eliminated by the body was calculated, which showed that individuals with MetS retained 30 to 50% more vitamin E than the healthy controls. This indicates that those with MetS required greater amounts of vitamin E, as the body excretes the vitamin when it is not needed. 

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“This study clearly demonstrates that people with metabolic syndrome need a higher intake of this vitamin,” said Maret Traber, lead author and professor in the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

This novel urinary approach to measuring vitamin E levels also indicated that blood measures, the conventionally used method, may be inaccurate. In the study, as the MetS group was retaining the needed vitamin E, their blood tests indicated that they were at the same level as the healthy individuals. 

Explaining the mechanisms of this phenomenon, Ms. Traber said, “Because this micronutrient is attracted to high cholesterol and fat, vitamin E can stay at higher levels in the circulatory system and give the illusion of adequate levels, even as tissues are deficient.”

The authors stated the importance of future studies measuring biliary and fecal excretion of vitamin E, which this study did not include. Due to the serious consequences of MetS, the authors stressed the importance of future studies investigating vitamin E status in this population.

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