Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E levels may become depleted when the diet is based on refined carbohydrates at the expense of whole grains. Vitamin E is lost in food processing which includes milling, freezing, long storage periods and when exposed to air. Vitamin E deficiency is relativley rare as long as a wholesome diet that includes wholegrains, fresh green vegetables and good quality vegetable and seed oils.

The benefits of taking fish oil supplements are undisputed but it is necessary to ensure adequate intake of Vitamin E as fish oils can lower levels of this nutrient.

Severe vitamin E deficiency results mainly in neurological symptoms, including impaired balance and coordination (ataxia), injury to the sensory nerves (peripheral neuropathy), muscle weakness (myopathy), and damage to the retina of the eye (pigmented retinopathy).

Conditions where supplementation may be necessary:

  • taking birth control pills
  • undetaking hormone replacement therapy
  • pre-menstrual cramps
  • menopausal hot flushes
  • after a stroke
  • heart disease
  • relieve painful or swollen joints
  • exposure to pollution or cigaretter smoke
  • poor circulation
  • Dupuytren's disease (thickening of the ligaments in the hands)

Symptoms of Deficiency:
Symptoms may include:

  • irritability
  • fluid retention
  • anemia
  • lethargy
  • loss of balance
  • reduced reflexes
  • difficulty walking
  • loss of coordination
  • loss of position sense (knowing where the limbs are without looking at them)
  • muscle weakness.

Vitamin E should not be taken together with inorganic iron supplements as it may destroy the vitamin, while organic iron, such as ferrous gluconate and ferrous fumarate has no effect.

Consuming a low-fat diet may reduce consumption of Vitamin E, because vegetable oils are one of the main sources. Disorders that impair fat absorption can also reduce the absorption of Vitamin E and increase the risk of Vitamin E deficiency.

Premature infants may have a Vitamin E deficiency and are at risk of several serious disorders. They may develop a form of anemia in which red blood cells rupture (hemolytic anemia). These infants may be given high doses to reduce the risk of retinopathy.

Vitamin E Excess

High doses of Vitamin E may increase the risk of bleeding (including hemorrhagic stroke in adults), particularly for people who are also taking an anticoagulant (especially warfarin)

Occasionally, adults who take very high doses develop muscle weakness, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhoa.

Vitamin E is bes taken with other antioxidants – Vitamin C, beta-carotene and selenium. It is advised that the Vitamin B group vitamins as well as inositol and manganese are taken with Vitamin E.