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Burn injuries in children show vitamin E depletion in fat tissues

September 30, 2017

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. The patients in this study all had major injuries, with burns over 29 percent to 93 percent of their body. They were treated at the Shriners Hospital for Children in Texas, however, which has one of the leading burn treatment centers in the world, and all of them survived.

In the United States, about 100,000 people each year suffer burn injuries that are sufficient to require hospitalization, and 5,000 deaths occur as a result. 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.

Prior to this, it was not known that any mechanism existed that would so rapidly draw down body tissue levels of vitamin E. Low tissue levels of vitamin E are ordinarily observed only after years of inadequate absorption caused by certain genetic defects or diseases.

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. This is 40 times higher than the RDA but also a level of supplementation that many people take routinely. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, must also be consumed with some amount of fat-containing food in order to be absorbed by the body.

Source: Oregon State University