What Are the Symptoms of a Vitamin E Deficiency?


Quick Answer

Serious symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include muscle weakness, loss of muscle mass, unsteady walking, vision problems and abnormal eye movements, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Long-term deficiencies may cause liver and kidney problems in patients. People who cannot absorb fat properly may develop this deficiency, since vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient.

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Doctors measure tocopherol levels in blood plasma in relation to other blood lipids to diagnose vitamin E deficiency. The Merck Manual explains vitamin E deficiency causes neurons in the nervous system to degenerate, thereby causing general neurological disorders in patients. Doctors prescribe high doses of supplements to combat neurological disorders associated with this condition.

The University of Maryland explains that most Americans do not have severe vitamin E deficiency, although many patients have slightly low levels. People with fat-absorbing problems in the gastrointestinal system usually have some underlying cause, such as Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, surgery, low-fat diets, genetic disorders or malnutrition, according to Mayo Clinic. One effective therapy for a vitamin E deficiency involves regular supplementation.

Developing countries have the highest instances of vitamin E deficiency. The Merck Manual indicates that a lack of vitamin E intake causes the deficiency in developing countries with inadequate food resources. Fortified foods supply plenty of vitamin E to people in developed nations, such as the United States.

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