British Journal of Nutrition

Short communication

The absorption of vitamin E is influenced by the amount of fat in a meal and the food matrix

Yvonne M. Jeanesa1, Wendy L. Halla1, Susan Ellarda1, Elizabeth Leea1 and John K. Lodgea1 c1

a1 Centre for Nutrition and Food Safety, School of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK


Vitamin E absorption requires the presence of fat; however, limited information exists on the influence of fat quantity on optimal absorption. In the present study we compared the absorption of stable-isotope-labelled vitamin E following meals of varying fat content and source. In a randomised four-way cross-over study, eight healthy individuals consumed a capsule containing 150 mg 2H-labelled RRR-α-tocopheryl acetate with a test meal of toast with butter (17·5 g fat), cereal with full-fat milk (17·5 g fat), cereal with semi-skimmed milk (2·7 g fat) and water (0 g fat). Blood was taken at 0, 0·5, 1, 1·5, 2, 3, 6 and 9 h following ingestion, chylomicrons were isolated, and 2H-labelled α-tocopherol was analysed in the chylomicron and plasma samples. There was a significant time (P<0·001) and treatment effect (P<0·001) in 2H-labelled α-tocopherol concentration in both chylomicrons and plasma between the test meals. 2H-labelled α-tocopherol concentration was significantly greater with the higher-fat toast and butter meal compared with the low-fat cereal meal or water (P<0·001), and a trend towards greater concentration compared with the high-fat cereal meal (P=0·065). There was significantly greater 2H-labelled α-tocopherol concentration with the high-fat cereal meal compared with the low-fat cereal meal (P<0·05). The 2H-labelled α-tocopherol concentration following either the low-fat cereal meal or water was low. These results demonstrate that both the amount of fat and the food matrix influence vitamin E absorption. These factors should be considered by consumers and for future vitamin E intervention studies.

(Received April 01 2004)

(Revised June 24 2004)

(Accepted June 29 2004)


c1 *Corresponding author: Dr John K. Lodge, fax +44 1483 876 416, email