Vitamin E Deficiency: What Are the Symptoms?

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Unless you have an underlying health condition, developing a vitamin E deficiency is rare, but possible. Here’s what you need to know & how to spot symptoms.

Vitamin E plays many rolls in the body such as helping to maintain healthy skin and eyes, help look after our central nervous system, as well as working within the body to help strengthen the natural defences against illnesses and infections. Vitamin E is a group of compounds found in most food sources, and due to this, a vitamin E deficiency is rare, but not impossible to suffer from. If you have an underlying health condition, you may be more susceptible to suffering the symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency.

vitamin e deficiency


Vitamin E requires the fat from your diet for the body to absorb the vitamin in the correct way. The vitamin is absorbed into the body and is stored in the liver, before it is released into the blood stream for its use. But, how does one suffer from a vitamin E deficiency and what are the symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency? Carry on reading to find out.


What Causes a Vitamin E Deficiency?

Vitamin E deficiencies are rare, and are rarely diet related. Instead, the deficiency occurs in people that have genetic disorders or long-term health conditions, where the body is unable to absorb fat and digest it in the correct way. With vitamin E being fat-soluble, the process of breaking down and absorbing fats is crucial. The body absorbs and stores vitamin E the same way it does with other fats, in the fat tissue and liver.

People with the following conditions may be at risk of suffering from a vitamin E deficiency:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Short bowel syndrome
  • Chronic pancreatitis.


Symptoms of a Vitamin E Deficiency

There are a few signs to look out for when it comes to suffering from a vitamin E deficiency, but don’t be too concerned. If you are worried about any of your symptoms, or feel as though you are suffering from symptoms that are not on the list below, then seek medical advice from your doctor.

Muscles Weaknessman receiving physiotherapy

As previously mentioned, vitamin E is vital for the healthy function of the central nervous system, and it is among one of the main antioxidants for the body. One of the symptoms of a vitamin E deficiency is muscle weakness, you may feel as though your arms and legs feel heavy, or holding certain things, that were not an issue before, become almost too heavy to carry or lift.

Numbness and Tingling

Due to vitamin E’s use for healthy muscle motion and function, any damage that is caused to the nerve fibres can cause the transmitting of signals from the nerves to be compromised. This symptom of a vitamin E deficiency results in tingling or numbness sensations in your body. This kind of sensation is what is known as ‘peripheral neuropathy’. However, this is not to be mistaken for the sensation we all know as pins and needles.

Deterioration of Vision

The nutrients that are sourced through vitamin E have been said to help with moderate age-related macular degeneration, as well as reducing the risk of cataracts. A lack of vitamin E can cause a weakening of the light receptors in the retina and other cells that form the eye. This, over time, can lead to vision loss or can blur vision making it harder to see.

Weakened Immune System

It is no surprise that vitamin E is vital in the support of a healthy and functioning immune system, so when our vitamin E levels our low, our immune systems defences are at risk of breaking down, therefore not protecting our immune system from illness and infection. Vitamin E helps to boost the immune system by supporting the growth of T-cells. The T-cells are used to fight off infections and diseases. Therefore, when the immune system is no longer working properly, it becomes weak, and more susceptible to infection and has trouble fighting bad bacteria off.

Sources of Vitamin Evitamin e foods

There are many food sources for vitamin E, which is why it is extremely rare to ever be deficient in this vitamin. However, for those who suffer from long term medical conditions may suffer from a vitamin E deficiency. So, what are the foods that we can try to eat more of, so that we can make sure we are getting our 15 milligrams of vitamin E daily? Below are just a few great dietary sources of vitamin E:

  • Almonds = 6.8mg per ounce serving
  • Peanut butter = 2.9mg per two tbsp serving
  • Peanuts = 2.2mg per ounce serving
  • Broccoli = 1.2mg per half cup serving
  • Spinach = 1.9mg per half cup serving.

How to treat a vitamin E deficiency

There are a few ways in which you can attempt to correct a suspected vitamin E deficiency. However, before experimenting with different ways to better your symptoms, always seek medical advice from a trusted health professional.

Try to incorporate more vitamin E rich foods in your diet, such as nuts, seeds, butter, whole grains, eggs, vegetable-based oils and fortified cereals. You can also take supplements to make sure you are sourcing enough vitamin E in your diet, however, make sure you are not consuming too much of the vitamin.

If you feel as though your symptoms are worsening, or that you have similar but not the same symptoms mentioned above, then you should seek medical advice. Your doctor will always determine the best next-steps, if you do in fact have a vitamin E deficiency.

Although vitamin E deficiency is rare in people that follow a healthy diet and lead a healthy lifestyle, it can still be a cause for concern in those that have pre-existing medical conditions.

There you have it, that is our guide to a vitamin E deficiency complete. Hopefully we have been able to put a few of your worries at bay and have clued you up on all you need to know in regards to a vitamin E deficiency. If you are still slightly concerned, and want to know about more vitamin deficiencies, then why not take a look at our article about vitamin B12 deficiencies: symptoms and causes, next?


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