The composed one-day diets and plasma of 40 Finnish men screened for a selenium supplementation study were analyzed for tocopherols and tocotrienols. The men were divided into a low-Se group (in the screening phase plasma Se levels less than 70 micrograms/l and plasma alpha-tocopherol levels less than 1.2 mg/100 ml) and a high-Se group (plasma Se greater than 70 micrograms/l, plasma alpha-tocopherol not determined before the study). In the low-Se group plasma levels of alpha-tocopherol averaged 0.97 +/- 0.18 mg/100 ml. The daily dietary intake of alpha-tocopherol was 6.1 +/- 2.7 mg and that of total vitamin E 7.3 +/- 3.1 mg of alpha-tocopherol equivalents. In the high-Se group the corresponding average values were 1.16 +/- 0.21 mg of alpha-tocopherol/100 ml of plasma, 8.8 +/- 4.3 mg of alpha-tocopherol/day and 10.3 +/- 5.1 mg of alpha-tocopherol equivalents/day. The overall average for the contribution of alpha-tocopherol to the total dietary tocopherols was 44.6 +/- 11.0%. In the plasma samples alpha-tocopherol accounted for 92.0 +/- 2.1%, beta-tocopherol for 2.7 +/- 0.7% and gamma-tocopherol for 5.3 +/- 2.1% of the total amount of tocopherols.

A HPLC Method is described for the determination of tocopherols and tocotrienols in human diets and plasma. After a room-temperature saponification diet samples were extracted with n-hexane. A direct hexane extraction was used for plasma samples. Using a normal-phase column at elevated temperature and a fluorescence detector complete separation of all four tocopherols, alpha-, beta-, gamma-tocotrienols and BHA and good reproducibility and sensitivity were obtained. The recovery of tocopherols added to diet samples was 99% for alpha-tocopherol, 95% for beta-tocopherol, 99% for gamma-tocopherol and 80% for delta-tocopherol. The recovery of alpha-tocopherol added into plasma was 99%.

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