A vitamin E deficiency is not a pleasant experience. Everyone feels a little less well now and then, tired, or dizzy. However, if this continues for a long time, there may be something more serious going on. Have you thought about a vitamin E deficiency?
Vitamin E is an important vitamin for both your mental and physical health. So do you have a shortage of this? Then you will quickly notice the consequences. Your beautiful radiant skin disappears and you no longer feel like doing things. Below you can read which other symptoms can occur and what you can do to prevent a vitamin E deficiency.
Is a vitamin E deficiency common in the Netherlands?
Fortunately, a vitamin E deficiency is not very common in the Netherlands and it is recognized relatively quickly before the symptoms worsen. To help you recognize a possible deficiency of this vitamin, we have written this article. This way you know what vitamin E is, what it does and how you can recognize a deficiency.
If you have the idea that you have a vitamin E deficiency, it is wise to contact your doctor. Read on to find out what vitamin E is.
What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E fights free radicals
Vitamin E can help prevent damage to your cells. This damage is caused by so-called “free radicals.” These are molecules that cause oxidative damage to your body cells. You can compare this with rust on iron.
Cells that suffer from oxidative damage tend to age faster and also break down faster. Antioxidants reduce the number of free radicals in your body and help protect your cells.
A vitamin E deficiency prevents the antioxidants from doing their job adequately, increasing the chance of oxidative damage.
This vitamin strengthens your immune system
Vitamin E also helps to strengthen your immune system, so that your body can fight viruses and bacteria more easily. It can also widen your blood vessels, reducing the risk of blood clots.
An adult person needs about 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day, but pregnant women need as much as 19 milligrams. You can get this from various foods, but also supplements.
When you occasionally consume too much vitamin E, very little happens. Your body simply stores this substance. The risk of vitamin E side effects increases only from 1,100 mg. However, it has been proven that doses from 300 milligrams can cause possible complications with medication. Are you considering consuming extra vitamin E through food or supplements? Then it is advisable to discuss this with a medical specialist.
What happens if you don't get enough of this vitamin?
A healthy person does not have much chance of a vitamin E deficiency, but it is nevertheless important to pay attention to your diet. People with certain diseases in which fat is processed less well are more likely to have a vitamin E deficiency.
These are diseases such as:
- Crohn's disease
- Chronic inflammation of the pancreas
- Cystic fibrosis
- Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)
- short bowel syndrome
The main sign of a vitamin E deficiency is that you have a weakened immune system. You are more likely to catch a cold and are more susceptible to flu and viruses.
Other symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include tingling limbs, tired muscles, vision problems, and in some cases even mild anemia. Note that these symptoms only occur if you have a long-term deficiency of this vitamin. So they will not appear overnight.
Fortunately, there are several effective ways that you can lower the risk of a vitamin E deficiency. We describe these in the next part of this article.
Tips against a vitamin E deficiency
The best thing you can logically do to prevent a vitamin E deficiency is to get enough of it every day. However, if you are already starting to experience vitamin E deficiency symptoms, you can still follow these tips, but we also recommend that you contact your doctor.
Below we have listed several tips for you with which you can prevent or reduce a deficiency of vitamin E.
1. Eat a balanced diet with lots of vitamin E
Below we take a closer look at several foods and explain which foods naturally contain a lot of vitamin E. You can always seek advice from a nutritionist such as a dietitian.
Vegetables with Vitamin E
Many different vegetables contain vitamin E, with avocado at the top of the list. 100 grams of this fatty vegetable contains no less than 2.1 mg of vitamin E. Then comes red pepper with 1.6 mg per 100 grams. Spinach and other green leafy vegetables also contain a lot of vitamin E. Therefore, make sure that you eat at least 250 grams of vegetables per day, of which at least one component has a high vitamin E content. This effectively prevents a vitamin E deficiency.
Vitamin E in fruits
Many types of fruit also contain vitamin E. Think of kiwi, for example, 100 grams of this fruit contains no less than 1.5 mg of vitamin E. Mango also contains a lot of this vitamin. Make a tasty smoothie or a healthy fruit salad with all kinds of different fruits. In this way, a deficiency of vitamin E is prevented in a tasty and healthy way.
Nuts and seeds are good vitamin sources
Would you rather get a good dose of vitamin E in one go? Then choose nuts and seeds as a source. A handful of almonds of 30 grams contains about 7.3 milligrams of vitamin E, and sunflower seeds even 10 milligrams per 30 grams! In addition, nuts are a great source of good fats and proteins. These should not be missed in your diet.
Oils with this vitamin
Chances are you use oil when you're cooking. Which oil you use often depends on taste. But did you know that oil can also contain a lot of vitamin E? Sunflower oil is the most famous example of this. This oil contains about 5.6 mg of vitamin E per tablespoon. Vitamin E does break down when heated, but in such small quantities that you still get enough of this vitamin when you fry something in oil.
Fish and meat contain a lot of vitamin E
Fish is often recommended to eat because it contains many healthy fatty acids, but marine animals often also contain a lot of vitamin E. Consider, for example, the so-called “sea ears”. A dish with abalone contains no less than 4.0 milligrams of vitamin E per 100 grams. Are you not a fan of sea creatures? Then goose meat is also a good alternative.
Do you prefer to eat vegetarian or vegan? Then it helps to know that many producers of meat substitutes add vitamin E to their products. This also reduces the risk of a vitamin E deficiency.
2. Preventing a low vitamin E level with supplements
If you do not get enough vitamin E with your diet, but also if you run a greater risk of a vitamin E deficiency due to illness, it is wise to use vitamin E supplements.
Many drugstores and pharmacies sell vitamin E supplements in varying doses. It is important to pay attention to the doses because too high doses can lead to possible complications with other medications. Therefore, look especially for supplements with a lower dose, or ask the pharmacy for advice. An alternative is to use multivitamins. These supplements contain not only vitamin E but also other vitamins.
3. Breastfeed and Baby Milk to Babies
It is crucial that babies, just like their parents, get enough vitamin E. A vitamin E deficiency can lead to greater health complications in babies and children. Ataxia is an example of this. It is therefore important to provide a baby with sufficient breast milk or formula. If the mother herself is not deficient in vitamin E, her milk will also contain enough of it.
However, if she cannot breastfeed, formula food almost always contains vitamin E. This way, the chance of a vitamin E deficiency in your newborn child remains small.
4. Eat plenty of other vitamins and minerals
Research has shown that vitamin E is dependent on vitamin C, vitamin B3, selenium, and glutathione. When there are too few of these substances in the body, vitamin E cannot function sufficiently to keep the body healthy.
This is because the above substances also function as antioxidants. The body simply needs a lot of antioxidants to make all body processes work properly.
You can also prevent a vitamin E deficiency by consuming enough other vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin E in care products
It's a good idea to add vitamin E creams to your daily regimen, but don't rely on them when it comes to preventing vitamin E deficiency.
If you use a cream with vitamin E, it helps to heal blemishes and wounds faster. It prevents age wrinkles in many and can reduce scarring. Because vitamin E can be classified as an antioxidant, it protects your skin from external damage. Think of UV radiation, smog, and cigarette smoke.
Preventing a lack of vitamin E summarized
Vitamin E is a vitamin that primarily functions as an antioxidant. It prevents damage to cells due to free radicals and also strengthens your immune system. Adults usually need about 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day and a vitamin E deficiency is fortunately not common in the Netherlands. Still, it is important to watch your vitamin E intake; especially if you suffer from certain illnesses.
Four steps against a vitamin E deficiency in general
There are four simple steps you can take to prevent vitamin E deficiency. First of all, it is important to follow a balanced diet, but you can also use vitamin E supplements.
It is also important that babies and children get enough vitamin E through breastfeeding or formula food. Finally, you can make sure you consume enough other vitamins and minerals so that vitamin E can do its job better in your body.
Good to take this vitamin E information into account
Vitamin E is regularly added to creams and oils for the skin. Nevertheless, you get only a little vitamin E from it to prevent a deficiency. However, it can ensure that you effectively strengthen and care for your skin.
Do you suspect that you have a vitamin E deficiency? Then contact your doctor – he or she can provide insight into whether you have an actual deficiency of this vitamin using blood tests. Then, in consultation with you, he or she can see which supplements with vitamin E (or foods rich in this vitamin) are suitable to combat the deficiency.