The Finns average intake of tocopherols, tocotrienols, and vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol equivalents) was determined. The food consumption data were derived mainly from the national food balance sheets (for 1987). The average Finnish daily diet was composed and analyzed both in spring and in autumn in order to minimize the effect of seasonal variation. The four tocopherols and four tocotrienols were then determined using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). For comparison, the intake of vitamin E compounds was also calculated using the most recent Finnish analytical data on tocopherols and tocotrienols in food. According to the analytical results, the average daily vitamin E intake in Finland was 10.7 mg alpha-tocopherol equivalents (alpha-TE) of which amount 85% is due to alpha-tocopherol. The analyzed values (10.8 mg alpha-TE in spring and 10.7 mg alpha-TE in autumn) of vitamin E intake did not markedly differ from the calculated value (10.3 mg alpha-TE), thus indicating that the Finnish food composition data upon tocopherols and tocotrienols is up-to-date and accurate. The best food sources of vitamin E were dietary fat (41% of the total amount), cereals (18%), and dairy products and eggs (13%). The average Finnish diet contained 9.5 g of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which leads to the ratio of 0.9 between alpha-tocopherol (mg) and PUFA (g). According to these results, the dietary recommendations for vitamin E are met in Finland.
A major public health concern of affluent nations is the excessive consumption of dietary fats which are now closely linked to coronary heart disease. Against this scenario, the tropical oils and palm oil in particular, have been cast as major villains in the U.S.A., despite the fact that palm oil consumption there is negligible. The unsuspecting public may not realise that the call to avoid palm oil is nothing more than a trade ploy since in recent years palm oil has been very competitive and has gained a major share of the world’s edible oils and fats market. Many also lose sight of the fact that, palm oil, like other edible oils and fats, is an important component of the diet. The allegation that palm oil consumption leads to raised blood cholesterol levels and is therefore atherogenic is without scientific foundation. Examination of the chemical and fatty acid composition of palm oil or its liquid fraction should convince most nutritionists that the oil has little cholesterol-raising potential. The rationale for these are: it is considered cholesterol free. its major saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid (16:0) has recently been shown to be neutral in its cholesterolaemic effect, particularly in situations where the LDL receptors have not been down-regulated by dietary means or through a genetic effect. palm oil contains negligible amounts (less than 1.5%) of the hypercholesterolemic saturated fatty acids, namely lauric acid (12:0) and myristic acid (14:0). it has moderately rich amounts of the hypocholesterolaemic, monounsaturated oleic acid (18:1, omega-9) and adequate amounts of linoleic acid. (18:2, omega-6). It contains minor components such as the vitamin E tocotrienols which are not only powerful antioxidants but are also natural inhibitors of cholesterol synthesis. Feeding experiments in various animal species and humans also do not support the allegation that palm oil is atherogenic. On the contrary, palm oil consumption reduces blood cholesterol in comparison with the traditional sources of saturated fats such as coconut oil, dairy and animal fats. In addition, palm oil consumption may raise HDL levels and reduce platelet aggregability. As with all nutrients, there is a need to obtain a balance of different fatty acids found in fats in edible oils and other food sources. There is no single ideal source of fat that answers to the recent American Heart Association’s call to reflect a 1:1:1 ratio of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats in relation to the recommended dietary fat intake of 30% of calories or less.