The body needs vitamin E to function, making it an essential vitamin. It is soluble in fats, which means it needs fats from food to enter properly. Vitamin E is highly stored in the liver before being released into the bloodstream for use. Shortages are rare and are usually the result of an underlying condition. Some newborns also have low levels.
Vitamin E occurs in eight types of chemicals. With a blood test, a doctor can learn how much a person has in one form, alpha-tocopherol. Using this information, they can determine the overall level of vitamin E. The standard dose is usually 5.5-17 milligrams per liter (mg/L). The average distance may vary between premature children and children under 17 years of age. Standard distances may also vary slightly between labs. When an adult has less than 4 mg/L of vitamin E in his or her blood, they or usually need a supplement.
Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency
Low levels of vitamin E can lead to:
Muscle weakness: Vitamin E is essential for the central nervous system. It is one of the body’s major antioxidants, and deficiency causes oxidative stress, which can lead to muscle weakness.
Blending and mobility: Deficiency can cause certain neurons, called Purkinje neurons, to collapse, impairing their ability to transmit signals.
Numbness and tingling: Damage to nerve fibers can prevent nerves from transmitting signals properly, leading to that sensitivity, also called peripheral neuropathy.
Visual impairment: Vitamin E deficiency can weaken light receptors in the retina and other cells in the eye. This can lead to loss of vision over time.
Immune system problems: Some studies suggest that vitamin E deficiency can inhibit immune cells. Older adults can be at greater risk.
Muscle weakness and joint stiffness are neurological symptoms that indicate damage to the central nervous system. The complete system is a network of nerves located across the brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages throughout the body. The central nervous system communicates between the brain and the spinal cord.
Neuron folds are made up mostly of fat. When the body has too little vitamin E, it contains a few antioxidants that protect the fat, and the nervous system’s function decreases.
Causes of Vitamin E Deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency often works in families. Learning about family history can make diagnosing certain rare, inherited diseases easier. Two of these diseases, congenital abetalipoproteinemia, and family vitamin E deficiency remain chronic and lead to very low levels of vitamin E.
Vitamin E deficiency can also be caused by diseases that significantly reduce fat absorption. This is because the body needs fat to absorb vitamin E.
Some of these diseases include:
- chronic pancreatitis
- celiac disease
- cholestatic liver disease
- cystic fibrosis
Deficiency is also common in newborns and premature infants with low birth weight and low fat. Premature infants are at greater risk because immature digestion can interfere with the absorption of fat and vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiency in these children can also lead to hemolytic anemia, which destroys red blood cells.
When to See a Doctor
If a person does not have a genetic history but experiences symptoms of vitamin E deficiency, they should consult a physician. Very low levels of vitamin E in the blood can indicate a health problem. Additional tests will help determine the cause and treatment options.
What are the treatment options?
Infants and babies born prematurely can be given a vitamin E supplement through a tube in the stomach.
Vitamin E supplementation usually works.
Infants and toddlers born prematurely
The current exercise involves providing vitamin E with a tube in the stomach. If necessary, it can also be treated with blood vessels. While a single dose can adequately raise blood levels of vitamin E, more doses may be needed.
Children and adults
Children and adults with defects caused by inherited conditions need to be supplemented with high doses of vitamin E. Addition can stop the progression of the disease. When the deficiency is detected early, it can prevent neurological symptoms.
Vitamin E in the Diet
It is impossible for a person to have low levels of vitamin E without having a chronic illness, genetic predisposition, or a low-fat diet. For others, support is usually not necessary. Vitamin E contains a wide variety of foods. The body cannot produce it, so it should be found in food or in supplements.
Foods that contain vitamin E include:
- vegetable oils, such as wheat germ oil, peanut oil, and olive oil
- nuts, seeds
- whole grains
- many vegetables, including spinach, swiss chard, red pepper, and avocado
How much vitamin E do you need?
Adults and children 14 years of age or older need 15 mg (mg) of vitamin E daily.
Children under this age need a smaller dose per day:
- Age 1 to 3: 6 mg/day
- Age 4 to 8: 7 mg/day
- Age 9 to 13: 11 mg/day
Women who are breastfeeding should drink 19 mg daily.
A combination of just a few foods per day will help you meet your vitamin E intake.
- One ounce of sunflower seeds contains 7.4 mg of vitamin E.
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 2.9 mg of vitamin E.
- Half a cup of spinach contains 1.9 mg of vitamin E.
Taking soluble fatty supplements can be dangerous. One should not take too many supplements for fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K.
High levels of vitamin E can cause abnormal bleeding, muscle aches, diarrhea, and vomiting. Bleeding may increase the risk of stroke and premature death. Too much vitamin E can interact with blood thinners, such as warfarin, and chemotherapy.
The person should inform the doctor of all the supplements and vitamins they take regularly. Do not exceed the recommended dose of supplements unless instructed to do so by a physician.
When an adult is deficient in vitamin E, a chronic illness or genetic condition is probably responsible. An individual should seek treatment from a specialist and skilled dietitian who has experience of the illness. When a diet low in fat is responsible for the deficiency, it can be remedied by adding fat to the diet.
Ongoing vitamin E supplementation will be necessary to stop the progression of the disease and prevent complications. When a person is diagnosed at an early stage and continues to receive treatment, their outlook is usually better.
What causes vitamin E deficiency?
Most of the time, vitamin E deficiency is caused by a condition where nutrients are not properly digested or absorbed. These include Crohn's disease, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and some rare genetic disorders. Vitamin E deficiency may also be caused by a very low-fat diet.
What are the signs of vitamin E deficiency?
Vitamin E deficiency can cause nerve and muscle damage that results in loss of feeling in the arms and legs, loss of body movement control, muscle weakness, and vision problems. Another sign of deficiency is a weakened immune system.