Vitamin E is valuable primarily as a sort of cellular defense mechanism. Oxygenated molecules can damage cellular structures without proper checks and balances, one of which is vitamin E. On the same note, vitamin E helps guard against skin damage from ultraviolet radiation, when applied topically as a cream or ingested as a nutrient. Researchers are currently investigating vitamin E’s role in transmitting chemical information between cells, which may be more significant than previously suspected. Vitamin E may play a preventive role in a plethora of serious illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease, prostate cancer, and other cancers, no doubt related to its role in easing cellular oxidative stress.
Vitamin E Deficiency
People with certain digestive problems are at an increased risk of vitamin E deficiency, usually because the vitamin is not being adequately absorbed in the digestive tract. Anyone with celiac, pancreatic, liver, or gallbladder diseases should be aware of their increased risk of vitamin E deficiency and the associated side effects. The symptoms ofvitamin E deficiency are mainly neurological, involving pain, sensory problems, or tingling in the feet, legs, arms, and hands. Few foods are fortified with vitamin E, and people who eat an inadequate number of daily seeds, fruits, and vegetables are unlikely to get enough vitamin E through their diets alone.
Patients are unlikely to get vitamin E toxicity just from food sources. They usually get vitamin E toxicity as a result of taking too many supplements, which was a fad a few years ago. Patients taking supplements at levels of three thousand IU or more have experienced double vision, muscle weakness, fatigue, and intestinal problems. Overdosing on vitamin E is much more serious when it happens concurrently with vitamin K deficiencies. It can lead to problems with blood clotting and wound healing, which could be potentially life threatening under the wrong circumstances. Anyone who suspects they may have these or related vitamin deficiencies should consult with their physicians or registered dieticians.
The best sources of vitamin E are turnip greens, chard, and spinach. Cayenne pepper, bell peppers, asparagus, almonds, sunflower seeds, and mustard greens are all very good sources, particularly in a diet that features most of them in large quantities. Carrots, papaya, oregano, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, raspberries, cranberries, tomatoes, and kale are all good sources of vitamin E. Anyone eating a full diet rich in fruits and vegetables should probably be getting enough vitamin E from food sources, and probably will not need to take supplements. Many of the health benefits associated with vitamin E are most strongly correlated with getting vitamin E from food sources, rather than from supplements.
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin E is fifteen milligrams for individuals who are fourteen years old and older, including pregnant women. Lactating women should try to get nineteen milligrams. Children should start with six milligrams per day at ages one to three, increasing to seven milligrams between ages four and eight, and eleven milligrams between nine and thirteen.