Review Highlights Importance of Getting Enough Vitamin E

A 2014 review of the research at the time on vitamin E showed that vitamin E deficiency could contribute to a wide range of health problems. Dr. Maret Traber, a vitamin E expert at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, conducted the review and it was published in Advances in Nutrition. In a press release, Dr. Traber commented that vitamin E deficiency is widespread—some surveys have indicated that more than 90% of men and women don’t consume the recommended daily amount (15 mg per day for adults). According to Dr. Traber, vitamin E is particularly important for the brain and neurological development of infants during their first 1,000 days—beginning at conception. A shortfall during that period cannot be made up for later. In addition, her review stated the following:

  • Inadequate vitamin E is associated with increased infection, anemia, stunting of growth, and poor outcomes during pregnancy for both the infant and mother.
  • Severe deficiency, especially in children, can cause neurological disorders, muscle deterioration, and even cardiomyopathy.
  • Vitamin E supplements don't seem to prevent Alzheimer's disease occurrence, but have shown benefit in slowing its progression.
  • A report in the elderly showed that a lifelong dietary pattern that resulted in higher levels of vitamins B, C, D, and E was associated with a larger brain size and higher cognitive function.
  • Vitamin E protects critical fatty acids such as DHA throughout life, and one study showed that people in the top quartile of DHA concentrations had a 47% reduction in their risk of developing all-cause dementia.

Because of the critical importance of vitamin E, Dr. Traber recommended that everyone take a vitamin E supplement that meets their daily recommended intake. She also said that sufficient vitamin E is especially important for children under the age of two; for women who are pregnant, nursing, or soon-to-be pregnant; and for the elderly. At the time, preliminary evidence suggested that mixed tocopherols, which contain all four of the naturally occurring forms of vitamin E—alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol—may have been preferable to alpha-tocopherol alone.

Source: Advances in Nutrition and Oregon State University

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