Vitamin E Deficiency – Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Vitamin E refers to an important antioxidant. This vitamin helps to shield the cell against free radical damage, which is a by-product of regular cell activity and chemical reactions in cells. Some of these reactions can be harmful. Vitamin E like vitamins A, D, and K is a fat-soluble vitamin, which dissolves in fat and is best absorbed when eaten with some fat. Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, vegetables, green leafy, and wheat germ.

Newborns have a low reserve of vitamin E because only some quantity of vitamin E travels to the placenta. Therefore, babies, especially premature newborns, are at high risk of vitamin E deficiency.

However, with age, the risk is lower because infants commonly get enough vitamin E in breast milk or commercial formulas. Adults can keep a large amount of vitamin E present in fat cells, making the deficiency less likely.

The body requires vitamin E to function, making it important vitamin. It is fat-soluble, and it needs fat from the diet to be properly absorbed. Vitamin E is stored in the liver before it gets released into the bloodstream for use.

Vitamin deficiency is not common and leads to different health problems. Some premature infants also get low deficiency levels.

Vitamin E happens in eight chemical types. With a blood test, a physician can learn how much of one type of alpha-tocopherol, a person gets. Utilizing this information, they can know whether an individual complete level of vitamin E.

A normal level is common with the range of 5.5-17 mg every litter. The normal range may be different from premature infants and kids under 17. Regular ranges can also be very slight among labs. When an adult has lower than 4 mg/L of vitamin E in their blood, they need supplementation.


What Is Vitamin E? Why Is It Essential?

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This vitamin is a group of syntheses that add tocotrienols and tocopherols. These two have several different types of vitamin E. Being a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E fights the free radicals and boosts complete health.

Vitamin E has many functions, apart from acting as a fat-soluble antioxidant, it also normalizes enzyme activity and promotes smooth muscle growth. The vitamin also impacts gene expression and leads to neurological and eye health.

Vitamin E comes from different food sources, the more of them being oils almond, wheat germ, and sunflower.


How To Correct The Deficiency?

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You should only try to correct a suspected vitamin E deficiency after talking to a doctor. Supplements may lead to complications, so it is best to consume a healthy diet that has different food rich in vitamin E.


You can get vitamin E in a wide range of foods. These have seeds, and nuts such as sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, and peanut.

  • whole grains
  • leafy vegetables
  • vegetable-based oils, especially sunflower and olive
  • eggs
  • kiwi
  • fortified cereals
  • mango



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Although consuming supplements is a famous way to include minerals and vitamins in your diet, you should be cautious about consuming vitamin E in supplement form. Supplements are not normalized by the US food and drug administration, so it can be hard to determine the quality of the ingredients.

Even if you buy a supplement from a reputable brand, there is a chance that it can affect different medications that you are consuming. Some of the medications that may be impacted have:

  • anticoagulants
  • simvastatin
  • antiplatelets
  • radiotherapy drugs
  • niacin
  • chemotherapy drugs

Because they are not regulated, it may not be clear what vitamin E you are having. For example, some supplements only consist of one type of vitamin E. Your body requires other types present in different food sources. It is always good to get nutrients from whole foods instead of supplements.

Concentrated supplements and not multivitamins may have more vitamin E than you need. It may lead to side effects and cause further complications.


How Much Vitamin E Do You Need?

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Children 14 years of age and adults and older need 15 mg of vitamin E each day.

Children under this age require a smaller dose daily:

  • ages 1 – 3: 6 mg/day
  • ages 4 – 8: 7 mg/day
  • ages 9 – 13: 11 mg/day

Females who are breastfeeding should have 19 mg each day. Combining some foods every day will help you meet your daily vitamin E consumption. For example:

One ounce of sunflower seeds has 7.4 mg of vitamin E

2 tablespoons of peanut butter have 2.9 mg of vitamin E

A half-cup of spinach consists of 1.9 mg of vitamin E.


Causes Of Vitamin E Deficiency and Who’s at Risk?

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Vitamin E deficiency can be the cause of an underlying condition. The different condition stops your body from being able to absorb enough fats, including vitamin E- fat-soluble nutrients, which includes:

  • cholestasis
  • cystic fibrosis
  • primary biliary cirrhosis
  • short bowel syndrome
  • chronic pancreatitis
  • Crohn’s disease


Causes Of Vitamin E Deficiency


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The deficiency of vitamin E passes from family to family. Knowing your family health history can make diagnosing rare, and inherited diseases easier. Two of these ailments, familial isolated vitamin E deficiency, and congenital abetalipoproteinemia, are chronic and lead to extremely low levels of Vitamin E.


Medical Conditions

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Vitamin E deficiency can also occur from a disease, which severely lower fat absorption. It is because the body needs fat to absorb vitamin E incorrect form.

Some of these diseases include:

celiac disease

chronic pancreatitis

cystic fibrosis

cholestatic liver disease

Vitamin E deficiency is common in newborn babies and premature babies who have low birth weight and low fat.

Premature infants have more risk of the immature digestive tract that can interfere with vitamin E and fat absorption.

Vitamin E deficiencies in these babies can also cause hemolytic anemia, which kills red blood cells.


Impaired Fat Metabolism

Fats hold vitamin E in the food, allow its absorption, and deliver it to body tissues. Any condition that affects the fat absorption or the lipoproteins production that hold vitamin E from the bloodstream can lead to vitamin E deficiency, they have:

  • Celiac disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Abetalipoproteinemia

The liver produces bile acids, which allow fat absorption. The following disorders can lead to vitamin E deficiency by compromising bile flow and liver function in the intestines.

  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • destruction of the bile duct
  • Cholestasis (decreased or blocked bile flow)
  • Primary biliary cholangitis


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Malnutrition or Insufficient food consumption is the foremost cause of vitamin E deficiency in growing countries. In severely malnourished kids, a lack of this nutrient can get a detrimental health impact.

Apart from vitamin E content, diets with low protein, low fat, and calories grow the risk of deficiency because of general malnutrition.

Vitamin E consumption may be an issue in the US, but the data are inconsistent. To stay over the safe side, it is the best idea to be mindful of your food sources and diet of vitamin E, which is necessary for immunity. Some estimate that depends over surveys recommends that over 90% of the US population do not get enough dietary vitamin E.

Choosing the proper food source is also necessary. People who wish to have baked products and sweets as their primary source have low blood levels of alpha-tocopherol.


Low Intake of Vitamin C

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Vitamin E and C work hand in hand to protect and shield your cells against oxidative damage. Vitamin C regenerates the antioxidant form of alpha-tocopherol that can prevent free radicals. Low consumption of vitamin C may thus raise the vitamin E deficiency risk, especially in smokers and other people who are exposed to more levels of oxidative stress.

Malnutrition is a primary cause of vitamin E in growing countries. People who do not get sufficient vitamin C and consume more processed foods also have risk.



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Obese kids and adults commonly have more lipids and normal vitamin E in the blood. Lipids bind to vitamin E, reducing the ratio of alpha-tocopherol to cholesterol.

In other words, high lipids and cholesterol keep vitamins tangled in the bloodstream, so obese people cannot use them well. It may point to deficiency, even with vitamin E in the normal range.

Additionally, obese people often experience oxidative stress and inflammation, which boost their need for vitamin E.



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Smoking increases a free radical storm in the lungs and whole body, suddenly increasing the demand for antioxidants and exhausting vitamin E. Research has confirmed that smokers, specifically females, have significantly reduced blood levels of alpha-tocopherol.


Signs & Symptoms

Mild vitamin E deficiency commonly goes unnoticed

More severe cases may lead to vision problems, muscle weakness, and cognitive impairment.

Typical symptoms and signs of vitamin E deficiency are very common in kids, they get limited stores and more needs because of how quickly they grow.

Skin Health

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Vitamin E is an important nutrient for the skin as it:

Lower lipid peroxidation

lower inflammation

Prevent UV damage and photoaging

Nerve Damage

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The most common signs of vitamin E, a rare genetic mutation in the tocopherol transporter, nerve and stem damage include

  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision problems
  • Impaired coordination
  • Numbness
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor reflexes

Limitations and Other Tests

Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means lipids must take into the bloodstream. High blood lipids boost the vitamin E in the blood but also limit its transport into other tissues.

That is why blood levels of vitamin E do not always relate to its consumption and may not offer a clear picture of its body status. Experts recommend the ratio of alpha-tocopherol to cholesterol is a very accurate indicator of vitamin E status.

You should fast before taking a vitamin E blood test to lower the triglycerides effect.

Apart from lab testing, a physician can do physical and neurological exams to look for symptoms and signs of vitamin E deficiency.

Advanced genetic tests can catch mutations that limit vitamin E metabolism.

High blood lipids may lead to incorrect positive vitamin E values. A physician may do an exam and recommend other lab tests for a more precise diagnosis.



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While the body requires enough amount of vitamin E, a surplus quantity is not good. An individual must not consume more supplements of vitamin A, D, E, and K. Extra vitamin E levels in the body may lead to diarrhea, abnormal bleeding, vomiting, and muscle pain.

The bleeding could raise the risk of early death and stroke. Excess vitamin E can also interconnect with blood thinners and chemotherapy medications and have negative effects.

It is always good to consult your physician about the vitamin E supplement dosage and plan of adding it to your diet. Do not exceed the suggested dosage of the supplements unless your doctor advises.


Diagnosis & Tests

Vitamin E Blood Test

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A blood test is the most general lab method to check the status of vitamin E. Values above the 5-mcg/mL of alpha-tocopherol are assumed normal, but some people might benefit from more levels.

High gamma-tocopherol may also suggest alpha-tocopherol deficiency due to their blood levels increasing at every other’s expense.

However, both types of unique functions and health benefits of vitamin E are given below:


Vitamin E Deficiency: Treatment

While different doctors recommend supplements, they can lead to complications in some cases. Thus, it is highly suggestible to derive this important vitamin by combining vitamin E enriched food with daily diet. Vitamin E is present in plentiful in a wide variety of foods like:


Sunflower Seeds

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Eating sunflower seeds can help your digestive system. Sunflower seeds make an excellent snack. People can also sprinkle them on oatmeal, yogurt, or salad. A 100-gm serving of sunflower seeds consists of 35.17 mg of vitamin E.

Sunflower seeds are packed with different nutrients and can help an individual get extra fiber to keep the digestive system healthy. A 100g serving consists:



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In each 100g serving of almonds, there is 25.63 mg of vitamin E. People can snack on roasted almonds, include them in baked goods and cereal or drink almond milk.

Almonds also contain:

  • 12.5 g fiber
  • 21.15 g protein
  • 270 mg magnesium
  • 733 mg potassium



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Peanuts are a famous snack. There is 4.93 mg of vitamin E in a 100 g serving of dry roasted peanuts. People should be sure to purchase dry roasted and plain peanuts rather than those with extra flavorings and salt.

The exact size serving also includes:

  • 8.4 g fiber
  • 24.35 g protein
  • 14.355 mg niacin
  • 634 mg potassium



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Some oils have high vitamin E, although apart from calories and fat have nutrition.

One tablespoon of the following oils

A tablespoon of the following oils contains:

  • Wheat germ oil: 20.32 mg
  • Grapeseed oil: 3.92 mg
  • Rice bran oil: 4.39 mg
  • Safflower oil: 4.64 mg



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Avocados are versatile fruit that has some sugar and more nutrients. In 100g of avocado, there is 2.07 mg of vitamin E.

The similar size serving also consists of 10 mg of vitamin C, making it very healthy for different snacks and meals. Avocados also have more potassium than bananas.



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A 100-gm serving of raw spinach has 2.03 mg of vitamin E.

The similar serving also contains:

  • 28.1 mg vitamin C
  • 9377 international units (IU) vitamin A
  • 558 mg potassium
  • 2.2 g fiber


Swiss Chard

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Swiss chard is a dark green and leafy vegetable that has 1.89 mg of vitamin E in each 100 gm of serving. Like different leafy greens, the swiss chard consist of a range of extra nutrients, including:

  • 6116 IU vitamin A
  • 30 mg vitamin C
  • 81 mg magnesium
  • 1.80 mg iron
  • 1.6 g fiber
  • 379 mg potassium


Butternut Squash

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Butternut squash is a tasty vegetable common in several winter and fall dishes. There is 1.29 mg of vitamin E in 100 gm of baked butternut squash.

The similar serving size also has plenty of different nutrients and vitamins, including:

  • 15.1 mg vitamin C
  • 284 mg of potassium
  • 11155 IU vitamin A
  • 3.2 g fiber


Beet Greens

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While several people are similar to the beetroot taste, not all know that it is possible to consume the leaves or greens. People can utilize beet greens in salads or saute them in the oil.

A 100-gm serving of cooked beet greens consists of 1.81 mg of vitamin E.

Beet greens consist of several extra nutrients such as:

  • 24.9 mg vitamin C
  • 909 mg potassium
  • 2.9 g fiber
  • 1.90 mg iron
  • 114 mg calcium
  • 7654 IU vitamin A



A 100 g serving of trout consists of 2.15 mg of vitamin E. Trout also provide healthier omega-3 fatty acids, and a similar size serving has 21.11 g of protein.

Green leafy vegetables

  • Mangoes
  • Whole grains
  • Kiwis
  • Avocados
  • peanuts, almonds,
  • sunflower seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Red peppers

One can also consult their physician for vitamin E supplements. Although, vitamin E contents present in supplements are not normalized and thus it is good to get your vitamin E from natural products. While it is essential to eat vitamin E, it is also extremely important to keep a tab on extra consumption. Extra vitamin E may cause:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Muscle pain
  • aches

Health Risks and Linked Conditions

Healthy people with low vitamin E consumption and blood levels will not feel typical deficiency signs. However, severe deficits in this nutrient may be linked to different chronic conditions.


Impaired Immunity

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Vitamin E is an important part of the immune response. It shields the immune cells against oxidative stress and promotes their activity. Vitamin E deficiency impairs the T-cell immune response, making the body extra possible to chronic disease and infectious.

In preliminary trials over HIV patients, vitamin E supplementation enhances drug treatment efficacy, slow down the AIDS progress and stop other infection.



People with vitamin E deficiency have low properties of anticancer and immune-boosting. During a meta-analysis of eight clinical trials, higher blood alpha-tocopherol was linked with particularly cancer of rates.

More specifically, low vitamin E levels may be linked with:

Oral cancer

Prostate cancer

Pancreatic cancer

Colorectal cancer

Malignant melanoma

Some vitamin E-linked genetic mutations raised blood alpha-tocopherol ad they are negatively linked with prostate cancer.

High levels of alpha-tocopherol may be negatively linked with skin, prostate cancer, and colon, but the similar does not go for vitamin E supplementation.


Heart Disease and Stroke

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Antioxidants like vitamin E are important for healthy blood vessels. They stop the oxidation of LDL cholesterol particles and lower plaque accumulation. Additionally, vitamin E reduces inflammation and strengthens the immune system.

In a large meta-analysis, people with more highest blood levels of alpha-tocopherol had an 18% reduced the death rate from heart failure or stroke.

Vitamin E is a nutrient important for the blood vessels and heart, but whether high levels save against heart ailment has yet to be determined.


Lower Fertility

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Scientists discovered vitamin E almost 100 years ago and instantly identified it as an important food component for reproductive health in healthy animals. Recent findings get confirmed an important role in human fertility and reproduction.

Vitamin E may promote fertility and ovarian function in females who are trying to get pregnant. It is important for reproductive health. Low levels may decrease the conception chances and healthy pregnancy.


Birth Complications and Stunted Growth

Apart from conception and early pregnancy, vitamin E is important for childbirth, fetal development, and the growth of an infant.


Weak Bones

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According to the research of 61000 older females, reduced consumption of alpha-tocopherol is linked with 86% higher rates of hip fractures. In over 1000 older males, those with a reduced consumption had hip fractures three times more.


Vision Problems

The eye cells consist of a more quantity of unsaturated fatty acids, which are helpless to oxidation. Vitamin E helps vision by stopping oxidative damage in the eyes.

Nutrition Tips

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People who consume more bread, sweets, potatoes, and meat tend to have less alpha-tocopherol levels, it might be the best idea to lower the consumption of these foods in favor of nuts and green vegetables.

Another way to promote your vitamin E levels is to partly change saturated fats like animal fats and dairy foods with polyunsaturated fats from nuts, vegetable oils, and seeds.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids may also lower cholesterol causing a high tocopherol: cholesterol ratio.

Eggs and high-fat meals will enhance vitamin E absorption from foods and supplements, but you should consume them in moderation and monitor blood lipids.

Vitamin C restores alpha-tocopherol and balances its antioxidant effects. To keep the vitamin E status more, ensure to consume vitamin C rich foods like:

  • Red pepper
  • Kiwi
  • Strawberries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Tomatoes

Vegetable oils, seeds, and nuts are rich in vitamin E. For better results, more consumption of vitamin C-rich foods, and lower back over bread, sweets, and saturated fat. High fat and eggs meals will improve vitamin E absorption.



Smoking exhausts vitamin E and boosts your dietary antioxidant demand.


Obesity may cause more blood levels of vitamin E, but it damages the uptake into the tissues, promote vitamin E requirement, and worsens your tocopherol: cholesterol ratio.



If you see the symptoms of nerve damage and doubt vitamin E deficiency, get medical attention instantly. Using a high dose of vitamin E supplements without medical supervision can be harmful and may not tell your condition properly.


Who should take them?

Extreme vitamin E deficiency because of chronic diseases or genetic defects needs lifelong supplementation with more vitamin E doses to stop nerve damage and complication.

According to research on smokers, vitamin C supplements can help retain vitamin E in the bloodstream 25-45% longer.

Vitamin E supplements may also be a good option for those who struggle to manage enough consumption or have raised needs. However, they come with health risks.


Toxicity and Side Effects

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You cannot overdose on vitamin E from food sources, but high-dose supplements are very risky. The safe upper limit is 1000 mg daily, which is equal to 1100 IU of synthetic or 1500 IU of natural alpha-tocopherol.

A higher dose might lead to cell damage and signs such as:

  • Acne
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood swings
  • Fatigue
  • Cramps

Drug Interactions

People on blood thinners should skip vitamin E supplements as high levels may boost the bleeding risk.


Health Risks

Extra alpha-tocopherol from supplements lowers blood levels of gamma-tocopherol and may raise the risk of Atherosclerosis, Inflammation, Fractures, breast cancer, and Prostate.


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