Adequate vitamin E intakes may prevent fractures in elderly

December 18, 2013

A new study from Sweden reports that low intakes and blood concentrations of vitamin E seem to be associated with an increased risk of fracture in elderly women and men.

The observational study estimated vitamin E intakes, measured alpha-tocopherol serum concentrations and documented cases of (hip) fractures among 61,433 older women and 1,138 older men over the course of 19 years (1). The study results showed that participants with the lowest vitamin E intakes and serum concent- rations had an increased rate of hip and other fractures when compared to the participants with the highest values. Alpha-tocopherol-containing supplement use was associated with a reduced rate of hip fracture and any fracture. Only about 10% of the women and 5% of the men had a vitamin E intake higher than the Swedish recommended intakes (8 and 10 mg/day for women and men, respectively).

The researchers added that the average consumption of alpha-tocopherol is low in Sweden and other Scan- dinavian countries (2). The highest incidences of osteoporotic fractures worldwide are also found in Scan- dinavia (3) – an observation that cannot readily be explained by known climate, longevity, lifestyle or genetic factors. Earlier research indicated that the increase in oxidative stress with aging seems to be a fundamental mechanism of age-related bone loss (4) and also possibly the loss of skeletal muscle mass (5). Thus, vitamin E might reduce the rate of bone loss and muscle wasting due to its antioxidant property, preventing the for- mation of free radicals and oxidative stress. However, human studies on the effect of alpha-tocopherol in relation to bone health are few. Importantly, there are no longitudinal data concerning the most relevant clinical endpoint of osteoporosis: fractures.


  1. Michaëlsson K. et al. Intake and serum concentrations of alpha-tocopherol in relation to fractures in elderly women and men: 2 cohort studies. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online November 2013.
  2. Jenab M. et al. Dietary intakes of retinol, beta-carotene, vitamin D and vitamin E in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009; 63(4):150–178.
  3. Kanis J. A. et al. A systematic review of hip fracture incidence and probability of fracture worldwide. Osteoporos Int. 2012; 23:2239–2256.
  4. Manolagas S. C. and Parfitt A. M. What old means to bone. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2010; 21:369–374.
  5. Cerullo F. et al. Rationale for antioxidant supplementation in sarcopenia. J Aging Res. 2012; 2012:316943.