Signs of Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Deficiency
Vitamin E (Tocopherol) is a nutrient that is abundantly available in foods that are widely available and consumed, including oils and grains. This prevalence of dietary sources of vitamin E results in a low rate of occurrence of a dietary deficiency of vitamin E.
However, a deficiency of vitamin E is more likely to occur in two specific situations. First, infants that are premature and have a low low birth weight are more likely to have a deficiency. Second, there is an increased risk of a deficiency for individuals who suffer from certain conditions that cause them to have problems absorbing and metabolizing dietary fat. These conditions include Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and abetalipoproteinemia.
Some of the signs, symptoms, and consequences of a vitamin E deficiency include the following:
- A deficiency of vitamin E can eventually result in damaged nerves and disorders of the nervous system. Problems with the nervous system causes by a vitamin E deficiency can include impaired or slowed reflexes, muscle weakness and fatigue, a lack of balance, and problems with coordinating voluntary muscle movements.
- A vitamin E deficiency may be one of the factors that contribute to the development of heart disease, including atherosclerosis (fatty buildups of plaque in the arteries, which can lead to heart attacks).
- A deficiency has also been linked to having an higher risk of developing certain types of cancer, including lung cancer.
If you are suffering from a condition which inhibits your ability to absorb dietary fats, you may want to talk to your doctor about taking a vitamin E supplement to ensure that you are getting all the health benefits of vitamin E.
Signs of Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Overdose and Toxicity
The dosage amount at which vitamin E may cause side effects due to toxicity is 1000 mg (1 gram/1500 IU) a day for the natural form of vitamin E, or 1000 IU a day of the synthetic form of vitamin E.
Some of the side effects that have been reported while taking doses of vitamin E that exceed the recommended daily limit include:
- Blotchy or red skin.
- Increased bleeding (lack of blood coagulation).
- Fatigue and tiredness.
- Digestive problems, including diarrhea, nausea, gas, and bloating.
- Blurred vision.
- A deficiency of vitamin K.
Dosages of vitamin E that are higher than the recommended daily limit of 1000 mg could inhibit body’s blood clotting ability. This could affect people people who are taking a blood thinner (an anticoagulant). If you are taking an anticoagulant, be sure to check with your physician before taking a vitamin E supplement.
Tolerable Upper Level of Vitamin E
The National Academy of Sciences has defined maximum daily intake limits for nutrients. These are amounts of nutrients that are safe to ingest per day. For vitamin E, the tolerable upper level is:
- 200 milligrams a day for infants and children 0–3 years old
- 300 milligrams a day for children 4–8 years old
- 600 milligrams a day for children 9–13 years old
- 800 milligrams a day for teenagers 14–18 years old
- 1000 milligrams (1 gram) a day for adults over the age of 18.