Vitamin E is a good thing to have in your body because it can dissolve fat and can act a little like an antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals in our bodies that accumulate from things like exposure to toxins and a bad diet. Free radicals are unstable molecules because they’re missing an electron, so they find poor unsuspecting molecules and steal one from them. In turn the robbed molecule becomes unstable and it tries to steal an electron too, and this creates a chain reaction. Antioxidants stop this chain reaction from happening by nicely lending an electron to the free radicals.
We get Vitamin E inside of ourselves by eating foods that have a lot of them. Things like eggs, milk, avocado, asparagus, nuts and seeds are examples of some foods that are rich in Vitamin E. These are fairly common foods, so it’s not so difficult to get Vitamin E in the U.S. However, if we don’t get the Vitamin E we need it leads to Vitamin E deficiency, which can have a lot of bad consequences. Unfortunately, Vitamin E deficiency is a common problem in developing countries where people don’t have easy access to Vitamin E.
Doctors test patients for Vitamin E deficiency by measuring the level of Vitamin E in their bodies compared to the level of fats. Vitamin E is supposed to absorb fat, so if there’s a low ratio of Vitamin E to lipids it suggests that the patient is Vitamin E deficient. Vitamin E deficiency leads to problems in the brain because the nerves can’t function as well without Vitamin E. The main symptoms in a patient with Vitamin E deficiency will include general impaired brain functioning and anemia. The anemia occurs because the lack of Vitamin E damages red blood cells. Patients can also develop problems with their muscles, though this tends to happen more in children than in adults because adults still tend to have bigger stores of Vitamin E in their tissue than children do.
Treatment for Vitamin E deficiency involves taking Vitamin E orally in high doses to replenish Vitamin E levels when patients have neurological deficits or they aren’t absorbing enough lipids. Vitamin E deficiency can be intuitively prevented by consuming enough Vitamin E.
It’s important to remember that too much Vitamin E can also be an issue. People who consume too much Vitamin E can experience nausea, diarrhea, fatigue and bleeding. While it’s bad to have a deficiency, it can also be harmful to have a surplus. It’s best to maintain a balance to be healthy.
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