Vitamin E deficiencies can increase the risk for diseases such as immune dysfunction, heart disease, and cognitive deterioration. However, the effects of vitamin E deficiency are often not able to be noticed until the long term impact has hit, which can range from Alzheimer’s to infertility.
How Much Vitamin E is Needed
Studies have shown that the protective level of vitamin E is 30 micromol per liter. This seems to be the level above which vitamin E positively affects the health. Studies have also shown that to achieve this level of vitamin E, you need to consume at least 50 IUs of vitamin E each day.The main reason there is such a deficiency is because most people have a heavily processed diet, which lacks in vitamin E as well as other micronutrients. Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, if you’re on a low-fat diet, you may need to increase your healthy fat intake to be able to properly absorb vitamin E. Studies have shown that the body will absorb only 10% of vitamin E if it is taken without fat.
Vitamin E Deficiency
Serious vitamin E deficiency may result in:
- Muscle weakness and unsteady gait
- Vision problems
- Loss of muscle mass
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Liver and kidney problems
While vitamin E is always important, deficiency is especially problematic during pregnancy. A deficiency may even result in miscarriage.
Around 13% of people around the world have vitamin E levels that fall under the functional deficiency threshold, and the majority of these are babies. Babies deficient in vitamin E have a higher risk for vision and immune problems.
Research also shows that low vitamin E levels are associated with a higher risk of heart disease and cancer. However, studies have shown that there is a difference between the benefits of natural vitamin E and synthetic. Synthetic vitamin E does not provide all of the health benefits of natural vitamin E, as it is derived from petrochemicals and has toxic effects.
Natural vs. Synthetic Vitamin E
Natural foods are the best source of vitamin E, because they include all eight of the vitamin E compounds, including Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma Tocopherols and Alpha, Beta, Delta Gamma Tocotrienols. Having a balance of all of these optimizes the antioxidant functions of vitamin E.However, synthetic vitamin E supplements usually only include alpha-tocopherol. This is not nearly as complete as a source that includes all eight compounds. It is best to avoid vitamin E supplements and opt for foods containing vitamin E. If you do choose to take a supplement, make sure it is a high-quality supplement, rather than a synthetic one.
Vitamin E Rich Foods
Vitamin E can be found in many healthy foods. Foods that often contain vitamin E include:
- Leafy Greens
- Wheat Germ Oil
Because cooking can diminish the levels of vitamin E, these foods should be eaten raw when possible.