Vitamin E: Benefits, Sources, Deficiency

Herbert McLean Evans and Katherine Scott Bishop were American physiologists who discovered Vitamin E in 1922.

It was first isolated in 1935 by Gladys Emerson and the structure was found by Erhard Fernholz in 1938, and later synthesized by Paul Kerrer, along with his team. There are 10 types of Vitamin E divided as Tocopherols (group of 5) and Tocotrienols (group of 5). 

We can identify them as:

  • Alpha- (α-)
  • Beta- (β-)
  • Gamma- (γ-)
  • Delta- (δ-)
  • Epsilon (ε-).

Benefits of Vitamin E

Vitamin E was first used as a therapeutic agent in 1938 for infants who suffered from stunted growth. Out of 17 infants, 11 were cured and resumed normal development.

Huge doses of Vitamin E can reduce and reverse atherosclerosis, whereas alpha Tocopherols can correct capillary permeability and low platelet counts.

Vitamin E plays a major role in cell signalling (a process that involves the cells reacting to the environment as per developments, tissue repair and immunity).

This is particularly important for cell membranes and also protects lung cells. Vitamin E is the antioxidant that blends with oxygen and destroys free radicals and fat-soluble vitamins, and also protects from oxidative damage. 

It is responsible for the repair of wounds and the regeneration of tissues. It is equally crucial for neurological functions and inhibition of platelet aggregation.

Lipid is protected by Vitamin E and it prevents the oxidation of fatty acids (polyunsaturated). Vitamin E is also used as an antioxidant in surgeries such as knee replacement and hip replacement, as well as in the treatment of heart ailments and deterioration in ageing.

Being an antioxidant, it plays a vital role in the preservation of food. It can also help prevent cancer, heart strokes, cataracts and possible signs of ageing.

Diabetic patients also benefit from Vitamin E, as it’s known to boost insulin levels and improve blood glucose metabolism by reducing oxidants. Athletes require an adequate amount of Vitamin E to keep their physical strength intact.

Premature babies are given an extra dosage of Vitamin E to prevent retinal damage, which can occur due to artificial ventilation.

The following Vitamin E intake is prescribed for people at different stages of growth:

  • Infants: 4 mg for ages 0-6 months, 5 mg for ages 7-12 months. 
  • Children: 6 mg for ages 1-3 years, 7 mg for ages 4-8 years, and 11 mg for ages 9-13 years.
  • Adolescents and adults: 15 mg for ages 14 years and up.


Sources of Vitamin E

Wholesome foods are a natural source, while green leafy vegetables are the richest source of Vitamin E. Apart from these, high-fat foods such as nuts, seeds, extracted oil and fatty fish are rich sources of Vitamin E.

Wheat germ oil, sunflower oil, almond oil, sesame oil and safflower oil are rich in vitamin E, along with almonds and hazelnuts. Other oils like palm oil and olive oil also contain a fairly adequate amount of Vitamin E.

Although Vitamin E deficiency is rarely a result of an unhealthy diet, it is important to eat foods that are rich in vitamin E. Your diet should include leafy vegetables like hogweed, broccoli, lettuce, sweet potato, tomatoes, spinach, turnip, beet greens, collard greens, asparagus and dandelion greens. 

Fruits like avocados, pumpkin, mangoes, papaya and kiwi are also rich in Vitamin E.

Seafood lovers seldom face vitamin E deficiency, as it is present in abundance in numerous types of seafood; while almost all contain a good amount of Vitamin E, rockfish is extremely high in vitamin E content.

Deficiency of Vitamin E

The deficiency of Vitamin E typically affects the neurological system and causes nerve problems resulting in poor conduction of impulses. Deficiency also results in neuromuscular problems such as spinocerebellar ataxia and myopathies, or anemia due to damaged red blood cells.

Extreme Vitamin E deficiency can also cause male infertility or impairment of immune response. Lack of vitamin E can also cause persistent or acute damage to the retina (retinopathy).

Reflex numbness and loss of sensation are also by-products of Vitamin E deficiency.

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