Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Vitamin E Deficiency

As we eat more processed foods the amount of vitamin E in our diet continues to plummet. On this page, we will show you risks of not getting enough vitamin E.

Vitamin E Requirements

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamin E is 15 mg of d-alpha-tocopherol for adult men and women (1 mg of d-alpha-tocopherol is equal to 1.5 IU, so the RDA is equal to 22.5 IU). Food and supplement labels usually list amounts of vitamin E in milligrams rather than international units.

Side Effects of Vitamin E Deficiency

No obvious symptoms accompany a vitamin E deficiency, making it hard to detect. A brownish pigmentation of the skin, called age spots or lipofuscin, may signal the problem, but only a blood test can confirm that vitamin E levels are too low.

When diseases of the liver, gall bladder, or pancreas reduce intestinal absorption, a mild deficiency of vitamin E can result. A diet of processed foods that's very low in fat might also cause a deficiency.

Vitamin E deficiency can occur in newborn babies, especially those born prematurely, because the mother doesn't transfer much vitamin E to the developing fetus until the last few weeks of pregnancy.

The deficiency can cause hemolytic anemia, a condition in which the red blood cells are so fragile they rupture.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.