Vitamin E is a fat-soluble Vitamin that includes compounds known as tocopherols and tocotrienols.
Vitamin E is found in various foods, including nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, fortified cereals, eggs, fish, fruits and vegetables and meat.
Natural or Synthetic?
The terms "dl-alpha-tocopherol" and "alpha-tocopherol" refer to two different forms of Vitamin E, and they have distinct chemical structures.
Dl-alpha-Tocopherol is a synthetic form. The "dl" indicates that it is a mixture, which contains both the natural (d-alpha-tocopherol) and synthetic (l-alpha-tocopherol) forms of alpha-tocopherol. Dl-alpha-tocopherol is generally considered less bioavailable and less effective than natural forms of Vitamin E.
Alpha-tocopherol is the natural form, specifically d-alpha-tocopherol. It is the most biologically active and bioavailable form of Vitamin E found in food sources. Natural alpha-tocopherol is the most effective antioxidant.
When choosing a Vitamin E supplement or fortified foods, it is generally recommended to look for products containing d-alpha-tocopherol as the natural form is believed to be more beneficial to health due to its superior bioavailability.
NRVs are set to provide guidance on the recommended daily intake of nutrients in the EU.
The NRV for Vitamin E is:
- Adults: 12 milligrams of alpha-tocopherol equivalents per day
Development of deficiency can vary depending on the criteria used by different health organisations and the specific measurement of Vitamin E in the blood.
However, a common reference range for deficiency is when the blood levels of alpha-tocopherol fall below 12 micromoles per litre (µmol/L) or 0.5 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL).
It's important to note that Vitamin E deficiency is relatively rare in developed countries because it is found in many foods, and most people can meet their Vitamin E requirements through a balanced diet. Additionally, the body stores Vitamin E in fat tissues, so deficiency takes time to develop.
If you have a medical condition that affects your absorption of dietary fat, like celiac disease, cystic fibrosis or certain liver diseases, they can be risk factors for deficiency.
Vitamin E plays a crucial role in maintaining various bodily functions. Some of the illnesses and symptoms associated with deficiency include:
Neurological issues: Vitamin E is important for maintaining the health of nerve cells. Deficiency can lead to nerve damage and result in symptoms such as muscle weakness, numbness or tingling and difficulty coordinating muscle movements.
Anaemia: Deficiency can contribute to haemolytic anaemia, a condition in which red blood cells break down faster than they should. This can lead to fatigue, weakness and pale skin.
Immune system dysfunction: It plays a role in supporting the immune system. This can affect the body's ability to fight off infections and illnesses.
Skin problems: Dry, rough skin and the development of skin conditions like atopic dermatitis may occur in individuals with deficiency.
Vision problems: It is essential for maintaining eye health. Severe deficiency can lead to vision problems, including retinal damage.
Reproductive issues: In both males and females, deficiency can affect fertility and reproductive health.
Cognitive impairment: Some research suggests that it may have a role in protecting against cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, deficiency may contribute to cognitive impairment or an increased risk of conditions like Alzheimer's disease.
Increased susceptibility to oxidative stress: It is a potent antioxidant, which means it helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Can I Recover From Deficiency?
It is possible to recover from deficiency with appropriate treatment and changes in diet or supplementation. The recovery process varies depending on the severity of the deficiency and the individual's response to treatment.
Identify and Address the Cause: The first step is to determine the underlying cause of the deficiency. It could be due to inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption issues (e.g., digestive disorders) or other medical conditions.
Dietary Changes: If the deficiency is primarily due to a poor diet lacking in Vitamin E-rich foods, making dietary improvements is crucial.
Vitamin E Supplements: In more severe cases or when dietary changes alone are insufficient, healthcare professionals may recommend supplements. These supplements are available in various forms, such as capsules or soft gels and can be taken orally.
Monitoring: Regular monitoring of Vitamin E levels in the blood may be necessary to track progress and adjust treatment as needed.
Addressing Symptoms: Depending on the symptoms caused by the deficiency (e.g., neurological issues), additional treatments or therapies may be necessary to manage those symptoms.
With proper treatment and adherence to medical advice, most people can recover from deficiency and regain normal Vitamin E levels in their body.
Should I Take Supplements?
Vitamin E supplements can be beneficial when used appropriately.
Vitamin E's antioxidant properties help protect cells from oxidative damage, supporting overall health and minimising inflammation. Vitamin E can work in conjunction with other antioxidants, such as Vitamin C and Selenium, to enhance the overall antioxidant defence in the body.
Supplements can aid in maintaining skin health, immune function and may have a role in preventing or managing certain health issues, such as cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline.
However, it's crucial to use supplements as recommended by a healthcare professional since excessive intake can lead to adverse effects. There is some concern that excessive intake of vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of bleeding.Always consult a healthcare provider before starting any supplementation regimen.
- The Link Between Vitamin E and Cancer – HealthAid®
- 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.