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Vitamin E Deficiency

  • Author :
  • TATA AIG Team
  • Published on :
  • 26/01/2024
  • 2 min read

Your body needs vitamins in minute amounts for proper health and functioning. Vitamins help in several bodily functions like protecting you from infections, wound healing, regulating hormones, strengthening your bones and more. These organic compounds can be water-soluble and fat-soluble.

One of the fat-soluble vitamins is vitamin E. It is an antioxidant that prevents cell damage caused by free radicals, helps in the proper functioning of organs and promotes eye, skin and cognitive health. The deficiency of this vital nutrient can lead to several health complications. This article sheds light on the causes of vitamin E deficiency, its symptoms and treatment.

What are the Causes of Vitamin E Deficiency?

Inadequate intake of vitamin E-rich foods

A primary cause of vitamin E deficiency is inadequate consumption of foods rich in this nutrient. So, including vitamin E-rich foods in your diet is essential to avoid deficiency.

**Malabsorption of fat

Since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, your body requires sufficient fat to absorb it. Some health conditions like cystic fibrosis, pancreatitis, celiac disease and some liver disorders can cause problems in fat absorption, causing vitamin E deficiency.

Low-fat diets

Very low-fat diets can lead to insufficient fat in your body. Due to this, your body may not absorb vitamin E properly, leading to its deficiency.

Genetics

Rare genetic disorders such as familial isolated vitamin E deficiency or ataxia with vitamin E deficiency can impact your body’s ability to absorb and use vitamin E. If your family has a history of vitamin E deficiency, keeping an eye on your vitamin E levels is essential to maintain optimum levels.

Digestive issues in newborns

Premature and newborn babies have low vitamin E reserves. This is because only small amounts of the nutrient can pass through the placenta. Furthermore, infants, particularly premature ones, have low body fat and underdeveloped gastrointestinal systems, which can cause problems in the absorption of vitamin E. Vitamin E deficiency in such babies can further cause hemolytic anaemia, leading to the destruction of red blood cells.

Signs of Vitamin E Deficiency

Recognising the signs of vitamin E deficiency can help you get treatment at the right time.

Vision problems

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient to maintain healthy eyes. Its deficiency can weaken the light receptors in the retina and other cells, causing vision problems and even vision loss over time.

Weak immune system

Vitamin E is believed to be an immunity booster. Hence, the deficiency of this nutrient can weaken your immune system and make you susceptible to diseases and infections.

Neuromuscular dysfunction

Vitamin E is vital to the proper functioning of your central nervous system. Being an essential antioxidant, vitamin E deficiency can lead to oxidative stress, causing muscle weakness. It can also cause impaired reflexes, coordination issues and even nerve damage.

Skin problems

Vitamin E’s oxidative properties help keep your skin healthy and prevent inflammatory damage due to UV exposure. Its deficiency can lead to dry and flaky skin.

Cognitive impairment

According to studies, vitamin E plays a vital role in delaying or reducing the risk of cognitive impairment. The nutrient is believed to be effective in improving your memory and learning functions. Hence, vitamin E deficiency can lead to cognitive impairment. As a result, you may experience confusion, memory loss and difficulty in concentration.

Anaemia

Another sign of vitamin E deficiency can be hemolytic anaemia, in which red blood cells rupture.

Vitamin E Deficiency Diseases

Vitamin E deficiency can cause serious damage to your health in the long term. Here’s the vitamin E deficiency diseases list:

  • Blindness

  • Ataxia

  • Paraesthesia

  • Autoimmune diseases

  • Myasthenia

Vitamin E Rich Foods

It is rare to develop vitamin E deficiency unless you have a genetic disorder, an underlying health condition, or you consume an extremely low-fat diet. Taking vitamin E-rich foods in your diet can help avoid its deficiency and resultant health issues. Here’s a list of foods that are rich in the nutrient:

  • Wheat germ

  • Mango

  • Avocado

  • Kiwi

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Almonds

  • Peanuts

  • Red bell peppers

  • Pumpkin

  • Asparagus

When Should You See a Doctor?

It is essential to contact a healthcare professional if you notice any symptoms of vitamin E deficiency or if you have a condition that hinders vitamin E absorption. Deficient vitamin E levels in your blood can be a sign of an underlying health complication. Consulting a doctor at the right time can help identify the cause and avail of timely treatment. Your doctor will recommend the most suitable treatment to overcome the deficiency.

Treatment of Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency treatment can include the following:

Vitamin E rich diet

Eating foods rich in vitamin E is the most common vitamin E deficiency treatment. A few vitamin E-rich foods you can add to your diet include almonds, leafy greens, seeds, vegetable oils, etc.

Vitamin E supplements

Doctors may prescribe vitamin E supplements if you have a high deficiency or an underlying medical condition that interferes with absorption. However, supplements must be taken with caution. While it is essential to consume vitamin E, you must keep a tab on its over-consumption. Excessive vitamin E intake can cause abnormal bleeding, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, etc.

Wrapping Up

Vitamin E naturally occurs in several foods. Because of this, deficiency of this vital nutrient is uncommon unless you have an underlying health issue. However, developing vitamin E deficiency can have serious side effects such as neuromuscular dysfunction, cognitive issues, vision problems, weak immunity, etc.

You must, therefore, consume vitamin E-rich foods to avoid any health complications. Furthermore, identifying the signs of vitamin E deficiency early can help in proper diagnoses and treatment.

With the rising costs of healthcare services, buying a health insurance policy can also protect your overall health. Health insurance ensures you don’t have to dig into your savings to avail of quality treatment. Be it pre and post-hospitalisation expenses, ambulance cover or critical illness insurance, health insurance covers a wide range of medical expenses. It gives you peace of mind during a health crisis.

So, compare different plans and get the best health insurance policy that suits your needs and pocket.

FAQS

How to check vitamin E levels?

Vitamin E is stored in your liver before being released into your bloodstream. It occurs in 8 chemical forms. You can check one form-alpha tocopherol through a blood test.

Who is at higher risk of vitamin E deficiency?

Premature newborns are at a higher risk of vitamin E deficiency. This is because their underdeveloped gastrointestinal systems are unable to absorb vitamin E efficiently. Adults can store vitamin E in large amounts in fat tissue, making them less susceptible to deficiency. However, people with health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, liver disorders and Crohn’s disease are at higher risk of developing vitamin E deficiency.

Can vitamin E deficiency lead to hair loss?

Yes, vitamin E deficiency can lead to increased hair shedding and thinning of the hair scalp. Other signs of deficiency can be dry, damaged hair with split ends.

What are the foods high in vitamin E?

Good sources of vitamin E include wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, avocado, mango, kiwi, pistachios, cashew nuts, apricots, broccoli, spinach, etc.

What are the signs of vitamin E deficiency?

Weak immune system, muscle weakness, vision deterioration, and skin and hair problems are a few signs of vitamin E deficiency.

What is vitamin E deficiency disease name?

Blindness, ataxia, Paraesthesia, Autoimmune diseases and Myasthenia are some diseases caused by vitamin E deficiency.

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