Vitamin E deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Vitamin E is a powerful, fat-soluble antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes against damage caused by free radicals and prevents the oxidation of LDL cholesterol. The term vitamin E encompasses a group of eight compounds, called tocopherols and tocotrienols, that comprise the vitamin complex as it is found in nature.

vitamin E deficiency

The recommended dietary allowances for infants are between 4-5mg/day, for children are between 6-7mg/day and between 11-19mg/day for adults. If the recommended allowances are not maintained, the person is likely to suffer from deficiency of Vitamin E.

Good food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, avocados, spinach, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, nuts, and whole grains, corn-oil margarine, mayonnaise, yams, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts.

Knowing the facts about vitamin E is important. Vitamin E is necessary for structural and functional maintenance of skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle. It also assists in the formation of red blood cells and helps to maintain stores of vitamins A and K, iron, and selenium. It may have a positive effect on immune health, protect against the oxidative damage that can lead to heart disease, have preventive effects against cancer, help relieve symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, and may help prevent some diabetes-related damage, particularly to the eyes.

Vitamin E deficiency usually develops as a result of a disease that effects digestion in general, like Cystic fibrosis or Crohn's disease. With these diseases, Vitamin E, along with many other nutrients are not properly extracted from the food because the normal digestive process does not function properly. There are other situations, such as alcoholism or certain liver diseases, where Vitamin E in particular is not able to be absorbed into the body because the bodies ability to digest fat is impaired. Vitamin E is a fat soluble nutrient, which means in order for it to be extracted from food, it needs to enter the body with the fat we eat. Premature or very low birth weight infants, and individuals with rare genetic abnormalities in the alpha-tocopherol transfer protein may also be at risk.


    Vitamin E deficiency symptoms include ruptured red blood cells, abnormal fat deposits, degenerative changes in muscles, and neurological disorders.

  • Signs of vitamin E deficiency in infants include poor physical and mental development and delayed growth. In children, vitamin E deficiency may manifest as muscle weakness, ptosis (drooping upper eyelid), or dysarthria (motor speech disorder).

  • Vision problems - retinal thinning, blurred vision, and cataract - may indicate vitamin E deficiency. Enlarged prostate, impotence, and decrease in sex drive in males and fertility problems or miscarriages in females may be signs of vitamin E deficiency. Vitamin E deficiency is associated with pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, and celiac diseases characterized by poor nutrient absorption from the digestive tract.

  • Nervous system problems - sensation loss, pain, and tingling - in the arms, hands, legs, and feet may signify vitamin E deficiency.


Laboratory diagnosis Vitamin E deficiency is made on the basis of low blood levels of a-tocopherol. The reference is made with the serum level Vitamin E 0.1-0.5 mg/DL.


Treatment Options:

There are natural and synthetic forms of vitamin E. Health care providers usually recommend natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) or natural mixed tocopherols. The synthetic form is called dl-alpha-tocopherol.

Some clinicians prefer mixed tocopherols because it most closely represents whole foods.

Dosages are usually listed in international units (IU).

Most vitamin E supplements are fat-soluble. However, water-soluble E is available for people who have trouble absorbing fat, such as people with pancreatic insufficiency and cystic fibrosis.

Vitamin E is available in softgels, tablets, capsules, and topical oils.

Always check with your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements. Vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking anticoagulants (blood thinners).

Experts recommend getting vitamin E from food rather than supplements.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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