Vitamin E is an important nutrient that promotes healthy nervous, immune, and cardiovascular system functioning. An individual who experiences a vitamin E deficiency may suffer from several different symptoms, including weakened muscles, fatigue, and problems controlling motor movements. Left untreated, a vitamin E deficiency can lead to vision problems, dementia, or even death. Most individuals are able to recover from deficiencies by eating foods rich in the vitamin, taking supplements, and following guidelines set forth by a knowledgeable physician.
There are several possible conditions that can lead to a vitamin E deficiency. When the body does not absorb fat correctly, as occurs with gastrointestinal disorders like Crohn's disease, the intake of vitamin E is greatly decreased. People with cystic fibrosis and liver problems may also experience vitamin deficits. Most often, however, an individual with a deficiency simply lacks a healthy diet rich in vitamin E. Malnourished people may experience additional symptoms related to deficiencies in other important vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C.
Symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency are often slight to mild at first, and may include feelings of fatigue and subtle muscle weakening. An individual with a progressing deficit of vitamin E might experience considerable muscle weakness, lowered immune system functioning, difficulty with motor movements, and problems seeing clearly. A severe or longstanding deficiency can lead to total blindness, dementia, irreparable nerve damage, and death.
An individual who believes that he or she might be experiencing a vitamin E deficiency should consult a doctor to determine the appropriate treatment plan. When the deficit is related to a poor diet, a doctor might suggest that a patient eat vitamin E rich foods such as green vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and eggs. Some patients benefit from taking oral supplements to help restore vitamin E levels in their bodies. When an underlying problem exists, such as cystic fibrosis, proper treatment of the initial disorder usually relieves vitamin E deficiency symptoms.
There is ongoing research that suggests that maintaining high levels of vitamin E can have several health benefits. The antioxidants present in vitamin E have been demonstrated in clinical trials to potentially lower the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Research also suggests that the vitamin is strongly linked with proper immune functioning and a healthy pancreas, liver, and kidneys. Individuals who are considering supplementing their diets with additional vitamin E should ask their doctors to help them determine proper dosages.