BACKGROUND: Numerous studies have shown that high doses of vitamin E can reduce "lipid peroxidation," or free-radical damage to fats, in people under oxidative stress. Reducing-free radical damage is important because it may help slow the aging process and help prevent certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Comparatively little research has been conducted on whether modest doses of vitamin E and other antioxidants would also provide health benefits.
RESEARCH: Researchers asked 105 healthy, nonsmoking men and women to use one of three spreads daily (in place of their regular spreads) with meals for 11 weeks. On a daily basis, Spread A provided 43 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents of (vitamin E) and 0.45 mg of mixed carotenoids (including lutein, beta-carotene, lycopene, and alpha-carotene). Spread B provided 111 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents and 1.24 mg of mixed carotenoids. Spread C was a conventional product containing 1.3 mg of natural-source vitamin E.
At the beginning and end of the study, researchers measured the antioxidant status of the subjects' low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, as well as other markers of antioxidant and free radical activity.
RESULTS: Subjects consuming Spread A, with modest amounts of vitamin E and carotenoids, had a 17 percent increase in the antioxidant capacity of their LDL and an 18 percent greater resistance (or lag time) of LDL to free- radical oxidation. Subjects consuming Spread B showed a greater increase in antioxidant capacity, similar effects on oxidation resistance, plus a 15 percent decrease of blood isoprostane levels, a marker of free radical activity. No significant changes occurred in people eating spread C, the conventional (nonfortified) spread.
IMPLICATIONS: This study demonstrated that modest amounts of vitamin E and mixed carotenoids, added to foods, may result in significant improvements in antioxidant status and reduced signs of free-radical oxidation in healthy adults.
Upritchard JE, Schuurman CRWC, Wiersma A, et al. "Spread supplemented with moderate doses of vitamin E and carotenoids reduces lipid peroxidation in healthy, nonsmoking adults," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2003; 78:985-992.
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