Bioavailability of vitamin E as function of food intake in healthy subjects: effects on plasma peroxide-scavenging activity and cholesterol-oxidation products

Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001 Oct;21(10):E34-7. doi: 10.1161/hq1001.098465.


Clinical trials with vitamin E have yielded contrasting results. In these trials, the amount of vitamin E given was different, and the compliance was not assessed in all studies. In addition, the modality of intake, ie, in relation to food, was not specified in any trial. Vitamin E is lipophilic, and its absorption is expected to be increased by food. We studied the bioavailability of vitamin E in relation to food intake and the effect on the lipid peroxide-scavenging activity of plasma and on 7beta-hydroxycholesterol and 7-ketocholesterol (oxysterols) as markers of oxidant stress. Twenty healthy Italian subjects were randomly assigned to take vitamin E at 300 mg/d on an empty stomach (group A) or during dinner (group B) for 15 days. Plasma vitamin E markedly increased in group B (84%) compared with group A (29%). The lipid peroxide-scavenging activity of plasma increased significantly in group B (14%, P=0.005) but did not change in group A. All subjects showed very low levels of plasma oxysterols, which were not affected by vitamin E supplementation in either group. This study shows that plasma concentration of vitamin E and plasma antioxidant activity in response to oral supplementation are markedly affected by food intake. Healthy Italian subjects show very low levels of cholesterol oxidation products; these low levels are possibly related to the Mediterranean diet. To obtain maximal absorption, vitamin E must be given at meals. These data should be taken into account in clinical trials with vitamin E.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arteriosclerosis / drug therapy
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Eating
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxycholesterols / blood*
  • Ketocholesterols / blood*
  • Lipid Peroxides / blood*
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin E / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Hydroxycholesterols
  • Ketocholesterols
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Vitamin E
  • cholest-5-en-3 beta,7 alpha-diol
  • 7-ketocholesterol