Formulators looking to maximise vitamin E absorption should consider incorporating it into food sources, according to a new study conducted at the Linus Pauling Institute and published in the January 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study?s surprising results found that vitamin E in fortified cereal was much better absorbed than greater amounts of the nutrient taken as a supplement as well as non-fortified cereal eaten with a separate vitamin E pill.
?Vitamin E is dispersed in a thin film on the surface of the cereal. In a pill, it?s a little blob that didn?t get absorbed very well,? said Maret Traber, PhD, a professor at the Institute, on the Oregon State University campus and whose lab headed the study. ?It made sense to reviewers that the cereal was absorbed better than a pill but why not the pill with cereal? Only two of five subjects absorbed the pill with the cereal.?
She said the results could open new markets to vitamin E suppliers.
?I would like to see food manufacturers use vitamin E in foods,? said Traber. ?Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it would be ideal in foods like pizza, French fries or any kind of baked product. Even the frosting in Pop-Tarts could be fortified with vitamin E. We thought that with a low-fat breakfast cereal you wouldn?t get any absorption. But the results clearly show otherwise. This should really tickle food manufacturers.?
Vitamin E supplier Cognis said the pilot study could be useful in helping its food company partners formulate with vitamin E.
?The study suggests that formulation characteristics can affect the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients,? said Kathleen Moran, global market segment manager of dietary supplements for Cognis. ?More research is needed to understand what specific characteristics of the fortified cereal contributed to the absorption of fat-soluble vitamin E in the absence of fat.?
Moran suggested that the pre-formed emulsion or excipients, such as the mono- or diglycerides, used to incorporate the vitamin E into the cereal may have assisted in the absorption process.
The cereal, provided by General Mills to mirror their Total brand, used synthetic vitamin E, which has been shown to have lower bioavailability than natural-source vitamin E.