Posted by: Chris Maloney | April 18, 2012

How Much Safflower Oil Can You Absorb and How Much Is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E redux

Vitamin E redux (Photo credit: selva)

In several recent studies on the absorption of Vitamin E, healthy volunteers taking Vitamin E showed increases in their blood levels of Vitamin E.  At the same time, patients with type 2 diabetes did not show any increased blood levels of Vitamin E on Vitamin E supplementation.  So patients taking Vitamin E weren’t getting any benefit.

Reexamining the recent negative studies on Vitamin E popularized in books like Bad Calories, Good Calories may be necessary, because the assumption has been that oral Vitamin E is readily absorbed.  Unless the studies checked blood levels of Vitamin E, it is possible that the study subjects were getting no more Vitamin E than the control groups.

Enter Safflower oil, with its recent fame as a possible weight loss product.  It contains 44mg/100g (the study lists 44g, a typo) of active vitamin E in a readily absorbable oil base.  So newer studies should utilize blood checks of vitamin E absorption and possibly use an oil-based vitamin E rather than relying on supplements.






Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997 Nov;51(11):723-8.


Determinants of the nutritional status of vitamin E in a non-smoking Mediterranean population. Analysis of the effect of vitamin E intake, alcohol consumption and body mass index on the serum alpha-tocopherol concentration.

Gascón-Vila P, Garcia-Closas R, Serra-Majem L, Pastor MC, Ribas L, Ramon JM, Mariné-Font A, Salleras L.


Community Nutrition Research Unit, University of Barcelona, Spain.



Study was conducted in order to investigate the association of vitamin E intake and other factors with plasma alpha-tocopherol concentration in a non-smoking Mediterranean population.


A cross-sectional study was conducted in a subsample of a representative sample of the Catalan population.


Sample size was 143 men and women, aged between 18 and 75 y, and final response rate reached 61.9% of the initial sample.


Serum alpha-tocopherol concentration standardized by serum total lipids was used as a proxy of the nutritional status of vitamin E. Vitamin E intake and alcohol consumption were estimated by a replicated 24 h recall method. Dietary data were collected in two different periods, winter and summer, in order to account for seasonal variation in nutrient intake, and were corrected for random within-person variability in order to account for day-to-day variation in nutrient intake. Multivariate linear regression models were fitted in order to estimate the determinants of serum alpha-tocopherol concentration.


In this population study, for each one mg increase in vitamin E intake, serum alpha-tocopherol concentration increased, on average, 0.66 micromol/L, after adjusting for age, gender, Body Mass Index (BMI), alcohol consumption and energy intake. BMI also influenced significantly serum alpha-tocopherol concentration, whereas alcohol intake, age and gender did not show significant associations with serum alpha-tocopherol.


The study showed that vitamin E nutritional status was associated to vitamin E intake and BMI in non-smokers.

PMID: 9368805


Int J Vitam Nutr Res. 2011 Jan;81(1):12-20.

The relationship between plasma alpha-tocopherol concentration and vitamin E intake in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Illison VK, Rondó PH, de Oliveira AM, D’Abronzo FH, Campos KF.


Nutrition Department, School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brasil.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2) predisposes to an increased production of free radicals and a probable reduction in plasma antioxidants, including vitamin E. This cross-sectional study investigated the relationship between plasma alpha-Tocopherol concentration and vitamin E intake in 58 Brazilians with DM2. Plasma alpha-Tocopherol was determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. The intake of vitamin E-rich foods was assessed by a food frequency questionnaire. Total cholesterol and fractions were measured by colorimetric enzymatic methods. Data on demographic and socioeconomic factors, life habits, and anthropometry were obtained by a questionnaire and physical examination. The association between plasma alpha-Tocopherol and vitamin E intake was assessed by multiple linear regression analysis. The following variables were included in the regression model: alpha-Tocopherol, vitamin E intake, total cholesterol and fractions, body mass index, waist circumference, gender, age, education, occupation, income, smoking, alcohol intake, and blood pressure. There was no association between alpha-Tocopherol and vitamin E intake, but there were significant associations between alpha-Tocopherol and total cholesterol (p < 0.001) and waist circumference (p = 0.003). There were 36.2 % diabetics with low alpha-Tocopherol concentrations (< 12 µmol/L) and 32.7 % with a low alpha-Tocopherol/total cholesterol ratio (< 2.2). Further large, epidemiological, longitudinal studies, including measurements of gamma-tocopherol in blood, should be conducted to confirm our results.

PMID: 22002214


Bioresour Technol. 2008 Sep;99(14):6354-9. Epub 2008 Jan 15.

Chemical composition and oxidative stability of flax, safflower and poppy seed and seed oils.

Bozan B, Temelli F.


Faculty of Engineering and Architecture, Department of Chemical Engineering, Anadolu University, 26470 Eskisehir, Turkey.


Three seeds of Turkish origin, flax, poppy and safflower were analyzed for their proximate, fatty acids, tocols (tocopherols and tocotrienols) and total phenolic composition, and oxidative stability of their oil. The major fatty acid in the flax oil was alpha-linolenic acid, comprising 58.3% of total fatty acids, whereas poppy and safflower oils were rich in linoleic acid at 74.5% and 70.5% level, respectively. The amount of total tocols was 14.6 mg/100g flax, 11.0mg/100g poppy and 12.1mg/100g safflower seed. Flax and poppy oil were rich in gamma-tocopherol as 79.4 mg/100g oil and 30.9 mg/100g oil, respectively, while alpha-tocopherol (44.1g/100g oil) was dominant in safflower oil. Only alpha- and gamma-tocotrienol were found in the oils. Oxidative stability of oils was measured at 110 degrees C at the rate of 20 L/h air flow rate, and poppy oil (5.56 h) was most stabile oil followed by safflower oil (2.87 h) and flax oil (1.57). There were no correlation between oxidative stability and unsaturation degree of fatty acids and tocol levels of the oils. All of the seeds investigated provide a healthy oil profile and may have potential as a source of specialty oils on a commercial scale.

PMID: 18198133



  1. […] finally, how much Safflower oil do we really absorb (and how much of that is Vitamin […]

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