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Serum Vitamin E Concentrations Inadequate In Many US Adults

Serum Vitamin E Concentrations Inadequate In Many US Adults

Article by Arnie Gitomer


Serum Vitamin E Concentrations Inadequate In Many US Adults

WESTPORT, Aug 09 (Reuters Health) - Data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES 111) suggest that "important proportions" of the adult US population have low serum alpha-tocopherol levels. This may place them at increased risk of chronic diseases in which low levels of this antioxidant have been implicated.

Drs. Earl S. Ford and Anne Sowell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, report the finding in the August I st American Journal of Epidemiology.

Among close to 16,300 US adults 18 years of age or older, roughly 27% had low serum vitamin E concentrations, defined as <20 micromoles per liter. "After age standardization, 29% of the men, 28% of the women, 26% of the Whites ... 41 % of the African Americans ... 28% of the Mexican Americans ... and 32% of the other participants ... had this low concentration," the CDC investigators report.

The finding that African Americans had the lowest vitamin E concentrations of all racial and ethnic groups represented in NHANES III is "...[p]erhaps the most significant finding in our study," Drs. Ford and Sowell write, " light of the relatively high mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer they experience." This group in particular may benefit from increasing the intake of vitamin E, they add.

On multiple linear regression analysis, age, serum cholesterol level and "...several serum vitamins and carotenoids were directly related to and high density lipoprotein cholesterol was inversely related to serum alphatocopherol concentration."

The NHANES III data support previously published evidence that former smokers have higher alphatocopherol concentrations than current or never smokers.

Drs. Ford and Sowell are hopeful that studies now in progress will "...definitively demonstrate the utility of vitamin E in reducing chronic diseases." Should this occur, "...the optimal intake and safety profile of this vitamin will need to be established."


Am J Epiderniol 1999; 150:290-300.