Vitamin E Deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency occurs when the body doesn't receive an adequate amount over an extended period. Deficiency is relatively rare and is more commonly seen in specific medical conditions. Deficiency can lead to various health problems due to Vitamin E’s role as an antioxidant and its involvement in physiological processes.
Deficiency can be caused by many factors such as inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption disorders (e.g., cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease), liver disease, conditions that affect fat absorption, and certain genetic disorders that impair the body's ability to process and use Vitamin E.
Common symptoms of deficiency can include muscle weakness, instability whilst walking, vision problems, difficulty coordinating movements (ataxia) and impaired immune function. Deficiency can also lead to nerve damage (neuropathy) and increased susceptibility to infections.
Vitamin E is essential for protecting nerve cells and maintaining nerve health. Deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms, including muscle weakness, loss of sensation and balance problems.
It plays a role in protecting the eyes from oxidative damage, might contribute to eye problems such as retinopathy (damage to the retina) and poor vision in low-light conditions.
Vitamin E supports the immune system, and deficiency may result in a compromised immune response, making the body more susceptible to infections.
Some studies suggest that deficiency might be associated with a condition where red blood cells are prematurely destroyed.
In some cases, a deficiency might affect fertility and reproduction, particularly in males. Vitamin E is involved in maintaining the health of reproductive tissues and protecting sperm cells from oxidative damage. Premature infants are at an increased risk of deficiency because they may not have had enough time in the womb to accumulate sufficient levels of the Vitamin.
Treatment of deficiency involves addressing the underlying cause and ensuring adequate intake through dietary sources or supplementation as needed.
Foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts (especially almonds and hazelnuts), seeds (like sunflower seeds), vegetable oils (such as wheat germ oil and sunflower oil), spinach, and broccoli.
If you suspect you might have a deficiency or are experiencing symptoms related to it, it's important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance. Self-diagnosis and self-treatment can be risky, and healthcare professionals can help determine the appropriate steps to address your health concerns.
Benefits of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble Vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in the body. It helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can contribute to various chronic conditions and the ageing process.
Antioxidant Protection: It is known for its antioxidant properties, which can help neutralise free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body. This may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disorders.
- Skin Health: It is often included in skincare products due to its potential to support skin health. It might help protect the skin from UV damage, promote wound healing, and reduce the appearance of scars. Some people take Vitamin E supplements to promote healthy skin from the inside out.
- Immune System Support: Vitamin E plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It helps in the production of immune cells and supports the body's defence mechanisms against infections.
- Heart Health: Some research suggests that Vitamin E may have a positive impact on heart health by helping to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, which can contribute to the buildup of plaque in arteries.
- Eye Health: Vitamin E, along with other nutrients like Vitamin C and zinc, is believed to play a role in protecting the eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataracts.
- Neurological Health: Vitamin E may have a role in maintaining neurological health. Some studies suggest that it might help protect nerve cells and support cognitive function.
- Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Vitamin E might have anti-inflammatory effects, which can be beneficial in managing chronic inflammatory conditions. Some research suggests that it could help alleviate symptoms in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
Recommended Daily Intake
The recommended daily intake of Vitamin E varies depending on factors such as age and sex. The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) is measured in milligrams (mg) and international units (IU) to account for different forms of alpha-tocopherol.
- Adults (18 years and older): 15 mg (22.4 IU)
- Pregnant individuals: 15 mg (22.4 IU)
- Breastfeeding individuals: 19 mg (28.4 IU)
It's important to note that these recommendations are based on the alpha-tocopherol form of Vitamin E, which is the most biologically active form. If you're considering taking Vitamin E supplements, make sure to check the label to see the amount of alpha-tocopherol equivalent, provided by the supplement.
The Best Form of Vitamin E
"Dl-alpha-tocopherol" is generally preferred over "dl-alpha-tocopherol." The difference between these two forms lies in their molecular structures and how they are processed by the body.
- D-alpha-Tocopherol: This is the natural form of vitamin E that occurs in foods and is the biologically active form of the vitamin. The "d" indicates that it is the natural form. It is recognised and utilised more easily and efficiently by the body compared to its synthetic counterpart.
- Dl-alpha-Tocopherol: This form contains both the natural "d" form and the synthetic "l" form of alpha-tocopherol. The "l" form is less biologically active and less efficiently utilised by the body. The "dl" form is often found in synthetic vitamin E supplements.
D-alpha-tocopherol is considered superior to dl-alpha-tocopherol. When selecting a vitamin E supplement, you should look for one that contains d-alpha-tocopherol, as this form is closer to what you would obtain from whole foods.
Can You Overdose on Vitamin E?
It is possible to overdose, although it's relatively uncommon and usually occurs from taking very high doses over an extended period. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble Vitamin, which means that it can be stored in the body's fat tissues and has the potential to accumulate to toxic levels.
The tolerable upper intake for Vitamin E is set at 1,000 milligrams (mg) of alpha-tocopherol per day for adults.
Excessive intake can lead to adverse effects. High doses of Vitamin E supplements can interfere with blood clotting, interact with certain medications and even cause harm in some cases. Potential adverse effects, include:
High doses of Vitamin E can interfere with blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding, especially when combined with blood-thinning medications or other supplements that have antiplatelet or anticoagulant effects. Vitamin E can interact with Vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting. High doses of Vitamin E might interfere with Vitamin K's functions.
Excessive Vitamin E intake can cause digestive issues such as diarrhoea, stomach cramps and nausea. Very high doses of Vitamin E may suppress the immune system's ability to respond effectively to infections.
If you're considering using Vitamin E supplements, it's recommended to consult with a healthcare professional before starting supplementation. They can help you determine whether supplementation is necessary, and if so, what the appropriate dosage would be based on your individual health status and needs.
- Vitamin E Foods, Benefits, Dosage, Recipes and More - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
- Vitamin E Benefits, Foods and Deficiency Symptoms - Dr. Axe (draxe.com)
- Vitamin E Overdose: Symptoms, Side Effects, and Treatment (healthline.com)
- The Benefits of Vitamin E (healthline.com)
- Vitamin E - Mayo Clinic
- Several forms of vitamin E protect against memory disorders, study says -- ScienceDaily
- Genetics may influence the effects of vitamin E on cancer risk -- ScienceDaily
- Vitamin E - Consumer (nih.gov)
Any information or product suggested on this website is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.