When we speak of Vitamin E, what comes first to mind? The skin of course! Not to mention the myriad of creams all enriched with Vitamin E. But the Vitamin E which we procure from food ingested, is intricately connected to four other nutrients. One of them is Vitamin C which is required to keep Vitamin E in its metabolically active form. The others are glutathione, selenium and Vitamin B3.

What is Vitamin E and how is it important?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient which is found in various foods. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant in the body, in helping the cells to protect themselves from the damage which may be caused due to free radicals. Free radicals are compounds which are formed in our body when the food we eat is converted into energy. People get exposed to many free radicals like air pollution, cigarette smoke, and ultraviolet rays from the sun. Vitamin E is also a term to describe the compounds: tocopherols and tocotrienols. Vitamin E is vital to our body as it boosts the immune system which fights off the bacteria and viruses. Vitamin E also helps to widen the blood vessels and keeps the blood from clotting within them. The cells present in our body use Vitamin E to carry out various important functions.

How much of Vitamin E is essential for the body?

The amount of Vitamin E which is essential for the body is 4 mg for men and 3mg is for women. An individual gets all the Vitamin E from his/her daily diet. The Vitamin E which the body does not need is stored for future use, which means it is not required in our diet every day.

What are the natural sources of Vitamin E?

In a wide variety of foods Vitamin E is present. The richest sources which provide Vitamin E are plant oil like soya, olive oil and corn. The other good sources of Vitamin E are:

  • Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts

  • Seeds like sunflower seeds which are among the best sources for Vitamin E

  • Green vegetables like broccoli and spinach provide Vitamin E

  • Many food products like fruit juices, breakfast cereals and spreads contain some Vitamin E

What are the symptoms associated due to lack of Vitamin E?

Vitamin E deficiency symptoms in infants include:

  • Poor eating habits

  • Loss of weight

  • Delayed growth

  • Developmental problems both physical and mental

Vitamin E deficiency symptoms in adults include:

  • Mild anaemia

  • Age spots

  • Decrease in sex drive

  • Fragile red blood cells

  • Disorders associated with infertility and reproduction

  • Cataracts

  • Dry or loss of hair

  • Cramps

  • Muscular weakness

  • Slow tissue healing
Which diseases are caused due to lack of Vitamin E?

Vitamin E deficiency is very rare among the healthy people. Mostly it is associated with certain diseases where fat is neither properly digested nor absorbed. Vitamin E requires some fat for the digestive system to absorb it. The examples of diseases caused due to lack of Vitamin E are:

  • Crohn’s disease

  • Cystic fibrosis

  • Abetalipoproteinemia – a rare genetic disease

  • Lack of Vitamin E can also cause muscle and nerve damage which can result in loss of feeling in the arms, legs, or loss of body movement control, vision problem and muscle weakness

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