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People Who Are Obese and Have Metabolic Syndrome Need More Vitamin E — And Aren’t Getting It

A recent study suggests that obese people with metabolic syndrome may be facing a catch-22: their weight and other problems increase oxidative stress, which increases their need for vitamin E. However, those same problems may cause their bodies to not use vitamin E as efficiently.

Metabolic syndrome affects more than one in three adults in the United States. It is characterized by a group of risk factors that contribute to coronary artery disease, stroke, and type-2 diabetes. The risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, large waist circumference, high triglyceride and high cholesterol levels.

Vitamin E is a fat soluble molecule, so the researchers initially thought that obese people would have higher vitamin E levels. However, what they found is that because obese peoples’ bodies already have enough fat, they reject the lipids that contain the vitamin E — and therefore aren’t getting enough vitamin E.

This vitamin E deficiency is problematic because fat generate oxidants that increase metabolic stress and vitamin E (as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants) help reduce that metabolic stress.

Researchers from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on October 7, 2015, in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Vitamin E has eight different forms: four tocopherols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and four tocotrienols (alpha, beta, gamma, delta) and has been shown to help many aspects of the body. Previous studies have shown that vitamin E intake is associated with lower cholesterol, healthier skin, maintaining a proper hormonal balance, and help reduce the risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

If you want to add more vitamin E to your diet, try eating sunflower seeds, breakfast cereal, tomatoes, dried herbs, and dried apricots.

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