Despite being given given about 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin E and other nutrients, the team of researchers found that children with burn injuries lost almost half of their stored vitamin E in three weeks.
"Vitamin E in adipose tissue does not fluctuate much on a short-term basis. To find this level of vitamin E loss in such a short time was dramatic, unexpected and somewhat alarming," said professor Maret Traber, a principal investigator in the Linus Pauling Institute.
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant, plays a role in the immune system, nervous system, and performs many other metabolic functions. It is commonly found in fats, nuts, and some vegetables and seafood products.
With the issue of burn injuries, expert say, one common result is a huge increase in metabolic rate as the body works overtime to deal with the trauma of burns, skin loss and oxidative stress.
Severe burns are associated with a systemic inflammatory response, increased production of reactive oxygen species and severe depletion of plasma antioxidants, previous research has shown.
The report concluded that burn patients may not be receiving adequate vitamin E nutrition, and theorized that increased vitamin E supplementation may decrease the neuropathy, or nerve damage, that is often associated with severe burns. Further studies to address the mechanism and consequences of this issue are planned, they said.
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E for children ages 4-8 is 10 I.U. per day. Traber said she would recommend performing studies with burn victims and giving them the "tolerable upper limit" of vitamin E as defined by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, which would be 400 I.U. per day.
The findings of this clinical study were just published in the American Society for Nutrition.