Vitamin Deficiency Series: Know Your Vitamin ‘E’ Level

Vitamin-E-deficiencySounding like a solitary component by the name, vitamin E is actually a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are in action all over the body.  Certain members of the vitamin E family are called tocopherols including alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocopherol whereas the other members are named as tocotrienols comprising of alpha, beta, gamma and delta tocotrienol.  The most effective and functional form of vitamin E is the alpha-tocopherol.

Although known to play a vital role in slowing the aging process of the body, other major contributions of vitamin E include prevention of oxidative stress, protection against bladder cancer, prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.  Experts also believe it is required in the prevention and/or treatment of a number of health conditions namely acne, angina pectoris, asthma, breast cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, fibrocystic breast disease, infertility (male), inflammatory bowel disease, macular degeneration, menopause, senile cataracts, squamous cancer, stroke, etc.

Deficiency symptoms for vitamin E are tricky to identify but one of the key indicator relating to the same is malabsorption.  Several studies reveal low levels of vitamin E associated with digestive system troubles resulting in poor absorption of the nutrients from the digestive tract further leading to pancreatic disease, gallbladder disease, liver disease and celiac disease.  The deficiency can also be ascertained in case the individual is suffering from nervous system problems of pain, tingling and loss of sensation in the extremities.  It can occur in newborn babies, especially those delivered prematurely, as the mother is unable to transfer much vitamin E to the developing fetus until the last few weeks of pregnancy.  The deficiency of this vitamin can also lead to hemolytic anemia, a state in which the red blood cells are so fragile that they rupture.

To overcome the deficiency of this vitamin, it is recommended to consume foods rich in vitamin E, for example, almonds, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, cod liver oil, cottonseed oil, egg yolk, green leafy vegetables like lettuce and spinach, hazelnuts, mangoes, margarine, mayonnaise, olives, papayas, peanut oil, sunflower oil, sweet potato, walnuts, etc.

By assessing the content of alpha-tocopherol in the blood plasma, using a method called high-pressure liquid chromatography, level of vitamin E can be verified.  Blood plasma levels of alpha-tocopherol that are 5.0 mg/l or above indicate normal vitamin E status whereas levels below 5.0 mg/l indicate vitamin E deficiency.  The recommended daily allowance for vitamin E is 15 mg of d-alpha-tocopherol for adult men and women (1 mg of d-alpha-tocopherol is equal to 1.5 IU, so the RDA is equal to 22.5 IU).


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