Plasma n-3 polyunsaturated fatty status and its relationship with vitamin E intake and plasma level

Yang Zhao, Frank J. Monahan, Breige A. McNulty, Kaifeng Li, Frederick J. Bloomfield, Daniel J. Duff, Lorraine Brennan, Anne P. Nugent, Eileen R. Gibney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The aim of the study was to investigate habitual vitamin E intake and plasma α-tocopherol concentration and their relationship with plasma fatty acid profile in a healthy adult population. Methods: Vitamin E and fatty acid intake data were determined from the National Adult Nutrition Survey. Plasma α- and γ-tocopherol concentrations were quantified by high-performance liquid chromatography and the percentage of fatty acids in plasma by gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. Participants (n = 601) were divided into vitamin E intake quartiles and plasma α-tocopherol quartiles, and differences in fatty acid intake and plasma fatty acid profile were analyzed by a general linear model. Results: Dietary intake data showed that as vitamin E intake increased, intakes of total polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) and α-linolenic acid increased significantly (p < 0.001), but eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) did not. After adjusting for fatty acid intake, vitamin E intake was positively related to plasma n-3 PUFA (EPA and DHA) levels and plasma n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio. Plasma α-tocopherol concentration was positively related to the percentage of plasma total PUFA, n-3 PUFA and EPA and inversely related to the percentage of plasma n-6 PUFA. Conclusions: The study illustrates that there are statistical relationships between plasma fatty acid profile and both vitamin E intake and plasma α-tocopherol concentration. Vitamin E may play a role in the maintenance of plasma n-3 PUFA profile in humans with consequent desirable health effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1281-1291
JournalEuropean Journal of Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • DHA
  • EPA
  • n-3/n-6 PUFA ratio
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid
  • Vitamin E intake
  • α-Tocopherol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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