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Vitamin E Deficiency: Symptoms, causes, prevention and treatments

Team AckoOct 14, 2022

According to experts, it is rare to suffer from a Vitamin E Deficiency. However, the chances are not nil. Vitamin E strengthens the body's natural defences against illness and infection, and promotes healthy skin and eyes. So, if you lack this nutrient, its deficiency will negatively affect your body's immunity and the health of your eyes and skin. To avoid this, you must be aware of the symptoms of this deficiency and take timely corrective actions. Here is an article that will help you understand the symptoms, along with causes, prevention methods, and treatments for Vitamin E Deficiency.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Contents

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What is meant by a deficiency of Vitamin E?

A fat-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties, Vitamin E, is known to support a robust immune system. It can be found naturally in various foods and is added to some food products to help you consume more of this nutrient. Because of such abundance, acquiring a Vitamin E deficiency is uncommon unless you have an underlying medical condition. 

Vitamin E's primary function as an antioxidant is to absorb loose electrons, or "free radicals," which can harm other cells. Additionally, it stops blood clots from developing in the arteries of the heart.

Signs and symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency

Following are the basic signs and symptoms of Vitamin E Deficiency.

  1. Low immunity: Immune cells may be inhibited by Vitamin E deficiency. According to studies, elders may require more Vitamin E since ageing causes changes in the immune system.

  2. Issues with coordination: Damage to the muscles and nerves can make coordination challenging. This makes even simple tasks like walking difficult. People with Vitamin E Deficiency may have these issues.

  3. Muscle issues: The brain and neurological system depend on Vitamin E. A deficit can harm nerves and muscles, resulting in discomfort or weakness in the muscles.

  4. Reduced eye function: If severe Vitamin E deficiency is not treated, people may eventually lose their vision.

  5. Reduced sensation: The loss of feeling, particularly in the arms and legs, can also be brought on by a lack of Vitamin E.

What causes Vitamin E Deficiency?

The following can be causes of Vitamin E Deficiency.

  • Malabsorption of fat

Vitamin E is mainly found in vegetable oils and is best absorbed when consumed with some fat. Hence a very low-fat diet lacks Vitamin E. 

Pancreatitis, liver problems, gallbladder abnormalities, and Cystic Fibrosis are some conditions that limit fat absorption and can also reduce Vitamin E absorption and raise the risk of Vitamin E deficiency. 

  • Family history

A deficiency of Vitamin E often occurs within families. The diagnosis of some uncommon, inherited disorders can be made by learning about family history. Congenital Abetalipoproteinemia and Familial Isolated Vitamin E deficiency are two of these chronic conditions that cause incredibly low Vitamin E levels.

  • Health issues

Medical conditions like Cystic Fibrosis, Celiac Disease, Cholestatic Liver Disease, or Chronic Pancreatitis can lead to lower absorption of Vitamin E in the body.

  • Digestive issues in babies

The likelihood of this deficiency is also high among newborns and premature babies with lower birth weights. They are at risk as an underdeveloped digestive system can also interfere with the absorption of fat and Vitamin E. The newborns' lack of Vitamin E can also cause hemolytic anaemia, which kills red blood cells.

Diseases caused by Vitamin E Deficiency

The following issues can be caused by Vitamin E Deficiency.

  1. Ataxia: A lack of specific neurons, i.e., Purkinje neurons, can impair the capacity of your limbs to carry messages from and to the brain. This can be caused by a lack of Vitamin E.

  2. Paresthesia: Vitamin E deficiency can cause Paresthesia or numbness and tingling in the arms and legs. It can lead to nerve damage, preventing the nerves from delivering messages appropriately.

  3. Myasthenia: The central nervous system requires Vitamin E. It is one of the primary antioxidants in the body, and a lack of it causes oxidative stress, which can cause muscle weakness or Myasthenia.

  4. Autoimmune diseases: According to some research, immune cells can be inhibited by Vitamin E deficiency. Those who are older may be especially vulnerable.

  5. Blindness: Lack of Vitamin E can cause vision loss by reducing the number of eye cells and light receptors in the retina. This might impair vision over time.

How can I prevent Vitamin E Deficiency?

The following tips can help in preventing Vitamin E Deficiency in your body.

  • Vitamin E levels are known to be lower in those who consume large amounts of potatoes, bread, meat, and sweets. Thus, it may be wise to reduce your intake of these food items in favour of greens and nuts to increase Vitamin E in the body.

  • Replace some of the Saturated fats in your diet with Polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds to increase your levels of Vitamin E. Saturated fats are found in dairy and animal products.

  • In addition to lowering cholesterol, Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) may also increase the Vitamin E to fat ratio.

  • Eggs and high-fat meals help improve the absorption of Vitamin E from food and supplements, but you need to use them carefully and keep an eye on your cholesterol levels.

Who is at risk of suffering from Vitamin E Deficiency?

Those belonging to the following categories can be at risk of suffering from a Vitamin E Deficiency.

  1. Babies born at extremely low birth weight might have a Vitamin E Deficiency.

  2. Vitamin E cannot be absorbed without fat, so people who have issues with dietary fat absorption may develop a Vitamin E Deficiency. Celiac disease, Crohn's disease, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, and liver disease are a few conditions that can result in fat malabsorption.

  3. Patients with cystic fibrosis lack the pancreatic enzymes necessary to properly absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K and may develop this deficiency.

  4. Bile flow and micelle formation are reduced due to Chronic Cholestatic Hepatobiliary illness, which is necessary for Vitamin E absorption. Patients with these conditions can develop Vitamin E Deficiency.

  5. People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery may be Vitamin E deficient.

Frequently asked questions

Here are some common questions and answers about Vitamin E Deficiency.

What is the ideal treatment for Vitamin E Deficiency?

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Vitamin E Deficiency is rare and can be corrected with the help of supplements. Thus, doctors generally prescribe Vitamin E supplements to patients with this deficiency.

Which food items are rich in Vitamin E?

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The following food items are rich in Vitamin E.

  • Almonds

  • Pumpkin

  • Spinach

  • Avocado

  • Mango

  • Sunflower oil

  • Peanuts

  • Safflower oil

  • Red bell pepper

  • Asparagus

Which Vitamin E form is ideal?

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There are eight different types of Vitamin E, with Alpha-tocopherol being the most biologically active. Since the liver prefers to transport and utilise this form of Vitamin E, it is regarded as being the most active natural form.

Where does the body store vitamin E?

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The body stores Vitamin E in the fatty tissue and the liver.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on several secondary sources on the internet. Please consult a doctor before making any health-related decisions.

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