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Why Vitamin E Deficiency Should Be Taken Seriously?

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Vitamin E is a rich antioxidant nutrient that helps to quench free radicals that are implicated in the diseases like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. It boosts the immune system, improves resistance to allergies and protects against blood clots. Its deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as gait disturbances and poor reflexes.

Those of us attempting to get our nutrients from food alone, will very likely end up deficient in a lot of micronutrients. Part of this is because we do not eat like we should, and part of it is because the soil just does not have the micronutrients it once had.

In general, my solution to this is the following: eat organic food that is available and affordable and take a good multivitamin.

Vitamin E: Chronically Deficient In Our Youth

But sometimes, looking at symptoms of individual deficiencies can be useful to reinforce the concept of a multi- and some people might have a higher need for a particular nutrient than a blanket one-size-fits-all multivitamin dose. So on that note, I will highlight Vitamin E, because one study found that 90% of 20-somethings and 70% of 30-somethings are deficient in it.1

That is probably due in large part to a crappy diet, let us be honest. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, (unprocessed) oils, wheat germ (not plain white Wonder Bread), and avocados. Here are some of the reasons why vitamin-E matters.

What Vitamin E Does For You

Antioxidant

It is one of the constellation of nutrients that help to quench free radicals. And as we all know by now, oxidative damage is implicated in the majority of Western diseases—like heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.

Immune Support

It actually helps to restore NK (Natural Killer) cells: those cells in the immune system that go around looking for rogue cells to gobble them up.

Anti-inflammatory

Deficiency of Vitamin E is associated with higher levels of inflammatory cytokines.

Improves Allergies

Adequate Vitamin E can lower the IgE immunoglobulins, associated with hypersensitivity allergic reactions.

Protects Against Blood Clots

This would not be a great thing going into surgery, nor for someone who already has a hard time clotting. But for those who are at risk for clots, it might be a good adjunctive treatment. Do of course make sure that you check with your doctor for any interactions with medications you might be on.

Neuro-protective

Vitamin E deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as gait disturbances and poor reflexes.

What Too Much Vitamin E Looks Like

Do not just go out and take a bunch of it without paying attention, though. The therapeutic range generally starts at 200 IU and goes no higher than 1600 IU, and this may be far too high for many people. Overdose symptoms include fatigue, headache, poor wound healing, increased bleeding, and muscle weakness.

The Upshot

It is possible to get tested for individual nutrient levels, to see what is high and what is low. I do not run this routinely, because again, most of the time a good diet and a multivitamin can take care of it. But, I would make sure you are taking a good multivitamin with at minimum of the RDA of Vitamin E (22 IU for an adult), and get tested if you think you might be low.

References   [ + ]

1.McBurney, Michael I., A. Yu Elaine, Eric D. Ciappio, Julia K. Bird, Manfred Eggersdorfer, and Saurabh Mehta. “Suboptimal Serum α-Tocopherol Concentrations Observed among Younger Adults and Those Depending Exclusively upon Food Sources, NHANES 2003-2006 1-3.” PloS one 10, no. 8 (2015): e0135510.
Dr. Lauren Deville NMD

Dr. Lauren Deville is board-certified to practice medicine in the State of Arizona. She received her NMD from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. Dr. Lauren came to naturopathic medicine in a roundabout way. When she was fifteen, her father died of cancer, after which she planned to devote her life to cancer research. But she quickly discovered that research was not for her. Years later she planned to attend traditional medical school, but she was frustrated by her volunteer experience, which seemed to consist only of treating symptoms, rather than searching for and addressing underlying causes. She stumbled upon SCNM almost by accident, and she considers herself incredibly blessed to have found a career that is also a calling.

Dr. Lauren Deville NMD

Dr. Lauren Deville is board-certified to practice medicine in the State of Arizona. She received her NMD from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Tempe, AZ. Dr. Lauren came to naturopathic medicine in a roundabout way. When she was fifteen, her father died of cancer, after which she planned to devote her life to cancer research. But she quickly discovered that research was not for her. Years later she planned to attend traditional medical school, but she was frustrated by her volunteer experience, which seemed to consist only of treating symptoms, rather than searching for and addressing underlying causes. She stumbled upon SCNM almost by accident, and she considers herself incredibly blessed to have found a career that is also a calling.