12 Signs that You Have Vitamin E Deficiency and What You Can Do About It
Vitamin E is a superstar among nutrients. Often referred to as “brain and bedroom nutrient,” it functions as an antioxidant. It helps in improving elasticity, moisture content and strengthens capillary walls of your skin, thereby keeping it young and healthy. It has natural anti- aging and regeneration properties and is used to heal burns injuries and skin cancer. It has also been found to be effective in reducing irritation caused by bee stings. Vitamin E, a blanket term for a group of 8 related fat-soluble compounds, neutralizes the effects of harmful free radicals—the unstable compounds that cause cell damage. It plays a critical role in regenerative functions, helps maintain a healthy immune system by warding off bacteria and viruses, helps in cell interactions, acts as an enzyme for certain biochemical reactions, balances hormones, improves vision, prevents clotting by keeping your blood vessels wide, contributes towards interaction between cells…Phew! The list is long. Despite its many benefits, vitamin E is one of the most underrated and undervalued vitamins. What you must note is that the human body is incapable of producing vitamin E on its own. Vitamin E deficiency is caused mainly due to a low-fat diet, low weight at birth and fat malabsorption - an abnormality in the way the gastrointestinal tract absorbs nutrients. People with such a condition typically have difficulty in absorbing vitamin E, as well. Such cases, however, are rare. Here are 12 signs that you may be vitamin E deficient: 1. You frequently experience weakness and fatigue Experiencing fatigue and weakness for unexplained reasons is a result of having mild anemia which is caused when there is a low amount of red blood cells (RBCs) in the blood. RBCs contain hemoglobin which transports oxygen to other parts of the body. Vitamin E deficiency often leads to a lower count of RBCs as it plays an important role in the formation of RBCs. 2. You have recurring muscle cramps Sudden involuntary contraction of muscles and the creepy- crawly pins and needles sensations you feel without any muscle strain or pressure is called Restless Leg Syndrome (RSL). Muscle cramps and other sensations, at any time of the day or night, may not be just due to dehydration or muscle strain. They could also be the result of missing vitamins in your diet. Deficiency of vitamin D and vitamin E are often cited as reasons for muscle cramps and RSL. 3. You have sight problems Do you catch yourself squinting hard with a blurry vision or just can’t figure out what you are seeing? Well, vitamin E (or lack of it) may have something to do with it. Deficiency of vitamin E leads to retinal thinning or degeneration which causes damage to the inner lining of the eye which begins to thin. Vitamin E levels, when not maintained, may lead to impaired night vision and sometimes complete blindness. Vitamin E helps in delaying or preventing cataract. Having super dry and over-baked skin, in spite of regular and constant moisturizing, may very well be due to Vitamin E deficiency. It leads to dryness as it is responsible for keeping our skin nourished and hydrated. In fact, vitamin E is one of the important ingredients used in moisturizers and lotions. Vitamin E is also known for its anti-aging properties. It protects our skin against damaging elements in the environment around us like smog, UV rays of the sun and smoke. 5. You have poor reflexes and balance issues Next time, before you blame your butter fingers or clumsiness, check the amount of vitamin E intake in your diet. Vitamin E is an antioxidant and its absence causes oxidation stress on cells and tissues. In other words, more free radicals are created. Deficiency of this vitamin can also cause a breakdown of the central nervous system, cause coordination problems, poor reflexes and nerve degeneration in hands and feet. 6. Your muscles feel weak Another symptom of vitamin E deficiency is myopathy- a condition where muscle fibers do not function, resulting in muscular weakness. You may find normal movements posing challenges. Deficiency of vitamin E combined with deficiency of selenium—an essential mineral found in very small amounts—can cause severe cases of myopathy. Selenium can be best found in tuna, sunflower seeds, oysters, oats and mushrooms, to name a few. 7. You may lose interest in sex One of the lesser known signs of vitamin E deficiency is a reduced sex drive. Adequate amount of vitamin E is required for maintaining a healthy sex life. The next time you don’t feel up to it, don’t simply blame the ubiquitous headache. Pump up your vitamin E levels. It is also needed for a healthy reproductive system as it helps in better blood circulation and repairs tissue damage. Apart from a decreased sex drive, hot flashes and dryness, deficiency in vitamin E can also lead to a host of fertility problems, both in men and women. It may cause abortions, miscarriages and infertility in women; sterility, impotence and enlarged prostrate in men. 8. You are losing hair Daily hair loss is experienced by all. It is one of those problems that is universal, unisexual, omnipresent and omnipotent. From too less vitamins in the diet to an excess intake of vitamins, from heredity to hormones, pregnancy to chemotherapy, physical stress to anemia—the causes are many. While deficiency of vitamin E might not be the only cause of hair loss, it is surely one of the more cost-effective solutions for this problem. Vitamin E does not just strengthen your hair follicles, it also keeps your scalp healthy due to its circulation and antioxidant properties. Applying vitamin E oil to hair is one of the quick fixes for shiny hair. 9. You take longer to recover from illness Vitamin E is required for a strong and healthy immune system. Along with selenium, it helps in building antibodies and improves the functioning of our immune system. Low vitamin E in the system can make recovery from infectious diseases a longer haul than usual. 10. Your wounds take longer to heal Wounds caused due to accident, or a surgical process, go through a complex recovery process that involves compounds, blood cells, immune system and tissues. To increase the metabolic activity that occurs during the healing process, certain nutrients are needed, vitamin E being one of them. Deficiency of vitamin E can cause prolonged healing time. What is worse, the scar may never disappear. 11. Your child does not eat well If your child was born with low weight, chances are that s/he will end up with vitamin E deficiency in the growth years. You need to keep an eye on your child’s eating pattern. Slow growth, poor eating habits, rapid weight loss in infants can all be due to inadequate vitamin E. Ptosis, droopy upper eyelids, in infants may also be due to the same reason. 12. Your digestive system is poor Low levels of vitamin E may be one of the causes for your digestive system to malfunction. The result: poor absorption of nutrients. This one is really a Catch 22 situation. Fat malabsorption, an abnormality in absorption of nutrients across the gastrointestinal tract, is one of the reasons for vitamin E deficiency. The deficiency, in turn, aggravates the problem. This may lead to diseases in liver, gall bladder and pancreas. Continue reading to find out what you can do to help counter the deficiency of Vitamin E You can enhance the levels of vitamin E in your system by making the right dietary choices. While it is undoubtedly important to have a balanced diet, adding a few extra bits that are rich in vitamin E can change the way you look and feel. Wheat germ oil is said to be the best source of vitamin E, but it can be easily found in vegetable oils like olive oil, coconut oil, soya bean oil, corn oil. Nuts like almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnut and peanut, greens like spinach and mustard leaves (sarson ka saag) or even parsley, avocado, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, egg yolks, cereals, fruit juices, dried apricots, broccoli, mango, kiwi, tomato are all rich sources. Vitamin E is also available in the form of capsules filled with oil. They can be applied to hair, nails, cuticles and skin. On an average, adults should consume at least 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day and children, 6-7 milligrams. Pregnant and lactating women should have 11 milligrams per day. The amount of vitamin E required depends on your age, weight and any specific health issues or concerns. Do Not Overcook Vitamin E gets affected by the essentials -- oxygen, heat and light. It can be lost during cooking or storage. To retain as much vitamin E as possible store items in airtight containers, avoid exposing them to light and eat them raw or lightly steamed. Over-cooking results in loss of value. Adding whole eggs to your breakfast or salads increases the vitamin E absorption by four to seven folds. As vitamin E is fat soluble, combining it with dietary fat is advisable. Danger Of Excess Intake When it comes to vitamin E, more isn’t necessarily better. Vitamin E overdose can lead to increased risk of blood clots, impaired sex functions, altered immune responses and altered metabolism of thyroid, pituitary and adrenal hormones. Excess vitamin E can also lead to the depletion of vitamin A, which is crucial in providing immune support and controlling malignant cells. Download the Grow Fit app on Google Play or App Store today for a free consultation with diet specialists.