Vitamin E

Vitamin E
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The body needs vitamin E to function, which makes it an essential vitamin. It is fat soluble, which means it requires proper absorption of dietary fat. Vitamin E is stored mainly in the liver before it is released into the bloodstream for use.

Deficiency is rare and typically the result of an underlying condition. Some premature babies also have low levels.

Vitamin E is available in eight chemical forms. With a blood test, the doctor can find out how much alpha tocopherol a person has. Using this information, they can determine whether a person has an overall vitamin E level.

A normal level is usually in the range 5.5-17 milligrams per liter (mg / L). The normal range may be different for premature babies and children under 17 years of age. Normal ranges may also vary slightly between laboratories.

When an adult has less than 4 mg / L of vitamin E in their blood, they usually require supplements.

Deficiency Signs And Symptoms

Low vitamin E levels can lead to:

Muscle weakness

Vitamin E is essential for the central nervous system. It is among the body’s main antioxidants, and a deficiency causes oxidative stress that can lead to muscle weakness.

Coordination and walking difficulties

A deficiency can cause some neurons, called Purkinje neurons, to deteriorate and impair their ability to transmit signals.

Numbness and tingling

Damage to nerve fibers can prevent the nerves from correctly transmitting signals, which can cause these sensations, also called peripheral neuropathy.

Visual impairment

Vitamin E deficiency can weaken the light receptors in the retina and other cells in the eye. This can cause vision loss over time.

Immune system issues

Some research suggests that vitamin E deficiency may inhibit immune cells. Older adults may be particularly at risk.

Muscle weakness

Muscle weakness and difficulties with coordination are neurological symptoms that indicate damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems.

The peripheral system is the neural network beyond the brain and spinal cord. These neurons transmit messages throughout the body.

It communicates between the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord.

Neuron sheaths are mostly composed of fat. When the body contains too little vitamin E, it contains less antioxidants that protect these fats and the function of the nervous system is impaired.


Vitamin E deficiency often runs in families.

Learning about family history can make it easier to diagnose some rare, inherited diseases. Two of these diseases, congenital abetalipoproteinemia and familial isolated vitamin E deficiency are chronic and result in extremely low vitamin E levels.

Medical conditions

Vitamin E deficiency can also be caused by diseases that severely reduce fat absorption. This is because the body needs fat to properly absorb vitamin E.

Some of these diseases include:

  • Chronic pancreas
  • Celiac disease
  • Cholestatic liver disease
  • Cystic fibrosis.

Deficiency is also common in preterm babies with low birth weight and less fat, and in preterm babies.

Premature babies are particularly at risk because an immature digestive system can interfere with the absorption of fat and vitamin E.

Vitamin E deficiencies in these babies can also lead to hemolytic anemia, which destroys red blood cells.

Visit our dedicated center for more detailed resources on vitamins, minerals and supplements.

When to See a Doctor

If a person has no history of genetic illness but experiences any symptoms of vitamin E deficiency, they should consult a doctor.

Extremely low levels of vitamin E in the blood can indicate an underlying health problem. More tests will help determine the cause and treatment options.

What Are The Treatment Options?

  • Vitamin E supplements are generally effective.
  • Newborns and premature babies
  • Current practice includes supplying vitamin E through a tube in the stomach. It can also be administered intravenously when necessary.
  • While one dose can raise blood levels of vitamin E enough, more than one dose may be required.
  • Children and adults
  • Children and adults with deficiencies caused by hereditary conditions require high doses of vitamin E supplements.
  • Supplementation can stop the progression of the disease. When the deficiency is detected early, it can prevent neurological symptoms.
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