Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin with a group of compounds including tocopherols and tocotrienols. The most biologically active of all these compounds is α tocopherol. These compounds have properties of an antioxidant and help to protect body cells against the harmful effects of free radical. Vitamin E also plays a major role in preventing chronic diseases, immune system, synthesis of DNA and other metabolic functions.

Enriched food sources of Vitamin E include wheat germ oil, hazelnuts, sunflower oil, almonds, spinach, corn oil, soybean oil, kiwi and mango. Human body requires an adequate supply of Vitamin E to perform vital body functions. The recommended dietary allowances for infants are between 4-5mg/day, for children are between 6-7mg/day and between 11-19mg/day for adults. If the recommended allowances are not maintained, the person is likely to suffer from deficiency of Vitamin E.

Deficiency of Vitamin E is more common in developing countries due to inadequate intake of Vitamin E. In developed countries, the deficiency occurs due to fat malabsorption and genetic disorder. The deficiency is most likely to weaken the red blood cells and cause degeneration of neurons, particularly peripheral axons and posterior column neurons.

Deficiency in Vitamin E can lead to mild hemolytic anemia and nonspecific neurologic deficits. It strikes people with various diseases like cystic fibrosis, cholestasis and pancreatitis. These diseases tend to prevent the absorption of dietary fats and fat-soluble nutrients. Cholestasis reduces the level of bile salt formation, resulting in failure of the body to absorb dietary fats.

Premature infants are more prone to Vitamin E deficiencies because they are born with low tissue levels of vitamin and have poor capability of absorbing dietary fats. The symptoms include a decline in cognitive function, loss of deep tendon reflexes, muscle weakness, loss of vibration and dysarthria.

It is very important to combat the symptoms of this deficiency. To do so, one has to consume the right amount of food sources rich in Vitamin E.