Nov 23 7:11 AM., USA- Marketers of full complex vitamin E supplementscould turn the latest review on the vitamin to their advantage, despiteits dramatic conclusions widely reported in consumer press.
The vice-president of Malaysia-based Carotech, the largest producer of oneof the vitamin E forms tocotrienol, says that the recently publishedmeta-analysis could be a positive marketing tool for a ‘back-to-nature’approach to the vitamin.The study, published on the Annals of Internal Medicine journal website on10 November, found that data from 19 studies demonstrated an increasedrisk of all-cause mortality from high dose vitamin E supplements.
Scientists and industry have pointed to several limitations of the study,including the fact that most were done on elderly people already sufferingfrom chronic disease and therefore of no relevance to healthy populations.
But others have also pointed out that most of the studies were done onsupplements of single source vitamin E, usually alpha-tocopherol.
While Carotech's W.H Leong agreed that meta-analyses are often highlyspeculative because of the different variables in each study, the latestcould additionally highlight the problems with taking a single form ofvitamin E.We should be taking the whole spectrum of vitamin E, the mix oftocopherols and tocotrienols, in the way they are produced and found innature, he told NutraIngredients.com.
Mimicking nature is the best way for supplementation. Like thecarotenoids, all these different forms of vitamin E work synergisticallyand depend on each other for optimum functionality, he added.
Dr Robert Verkerk, executive director for the trade association Alliancefor Natural Health, also pointed to evidence showing that alpha-tocopherolcan reduce the body's absorption of other forms of vitamin E, said to bemore powerful antioxidants.
Specialist supplement manufacturers in the US, including major brands likeGNC, are beginning to offer ‘full spectrum’ or ‘complete complex’ productsin order to provide all seven forms of the vitamin in a supplement.
Carotech, which produces 18,000 kilos of its Tocomin 50 per cent a year,is now hoping to promote this approach in Europe too. The firm, whichstarted producing tocotrienol from palm oil in 1995, remains the largestproducer, although competition from products like rice oil is increasing.
Even though I don’t produce tocopherols I am advocating the use of allseven forms found in nature, said Leong.
The emerging science on vitamin E has been causing peaks and troughs indemand for a number of years. Manufacturers of the vitamin at last week’sHealth Ingredients Europe show confirmed that the John Hopkins trialreleased earlier this month had already made an impact on sales.
According to feedback from some customers, there is a short term drop invitamin E business in the week since the story ran, noted Thomas Breisach,spokesman for DSM Nutritional Products, one of the largest manufacturersof the synthetic vitamin.
Leong also fielded several enquiries about the study.
Four people have stopped by my stand to ask about this study. The lastthing we want is for the consumer to stop taking vitamin E, he added.
Leong’s approach, supported by others in the supplements industry, claimsthat natural nutrients do not work well in isolation from each other andare safer when used in their natural matrix.
Tocotrienols remain hugely more expensive than synthetic or even naturalform alpha-tocopherol but Leong argues that the evidence increasinglysupports the need for all forms of the vitamin.
Manufacturers of the synthetic version disagree. Other naturally occurringforms of vitamin E do not contribute toward meeting the vitamin Erequirement because they are not converted to alpha-tocopherol by humansand are recognized poorly by the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein in theliver, says DSM, referring to the US Institute of Medicine’s Food andNutrition Board.
The difference in natural and synthetic vitamin E is only thebioavailability, notes Breisach.
However all vitamin E makers agree that both natural and syntheticvariants have a long track record of safety and that industry needs todevelop a strategy to rebuild consumer confidence concerning the safetyand benefits of this vitamin.
The US-based National Nutritional Foods Association (NNFA) has launched anonline Vitamin E Resource Center to provide members and others withinformation that supports the benefits of vitamin E and thoroughly refutesthe negative findings of recent studies.
The Dietary Supplement Information Bureau has launched a website toprovide accurate information on vitamin E for consumers.