Vitamin E is a collective term for fat-soluble substances that can not be produced by the body itself. Therefore, they have to be supplied externally via foods such as vegetable oils, nuts or margarine. If too little vitamin E is taken up over a longer period of time, a deficiency occurs. Typical symptoms of such vitamin E deficiency are disorders of digestion, lack of concentration, increased susceptibility to infections and the breakdown of muscles.
Effect of vitamin E
Just like vitamin A and vitamin C, vitamin E is an antioxidant and therefore an important radical scavenger in our body. Free radicals are aggressive compounds that are caused by chemical reactions, smoking, stress or the effects of high-energy rays such as sun or X-rays arise. They damage proteins in the body, the structure of the cells and also the DNA. Through its cell-protective function, vitamin E should slow down aging processes and protect against cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
In addition to its effect as an antioxidant vitamin E should also affect the control of the gonads. It is therefore also referred to as anti-sterility vitamin. However, the effects of vitamin E have not yet been scientifically proven.
Vitamin E for the care of the skin
Due to the antioxidant effect of vitamin E, the substance is used in many skin care products. It aims to improve the skin surface, increase the moisture content of the skin and slow down aging processes. In addition, vitamin E should have an anti-inflammatory effect and accelerate the healing of superficial wounds.
In addition to cosmetics, the vitamin also comes in sun creams, as the substance is said to have a sun protective effect on the skin.
Vitamin E: Occurrence in food
The recommended daily dose of vitamin E is 12 to 14 milligrams, according to the German Society for Nutrition (DGE). Other institutions such as the Berkeley Institute, however, recommend significantly higher doses. Pregnant and nursing women should generally take in a little more vitamin E than other people. In addition, the need is also increased in smokers, in persons with weakened immune system or heart disease and in stressful life phases.
Vitamin E is only produced by plants, but also reaches animal food via the food chain. Their vitamin E content is significantly lower. In larger quantities, vitamin E occurs in vegetable oils such as wheat germ oil, sunflower oil or olive oil and in cereal germs.
For example, the daily requirement can be met by eating the following foods:
- 5 milliliters of wheat germ oil
- 30 milliliters of olive oil
- 50 grams of hazelnuts
- 70 grams of margarine
Light and heat can cause losses during storage and preparation of the food, but as a rule they are relatively small.
Vitamin E deficiency
Although vitamin E is found in many foods, only about half of Germans manage to meet their dietary vitamin E needs. If too little vitamin E is taken, the body can first mobilize reserves in the liver to compensate for the deficit. Therefore, vitamin E deficiency often occurs only after years of lack of care.
Causes of vitamin E deficiency are often disorders of lipid metabolism or liver function. For example, in case of a disturbance of the lipid metabolism, vitamin E can no longer be taken out of the intestine. In addition, vitamin E deficiency may also occur in premature babies. A diet-related cause, however, is relatively rare.
Vitamin E deficiency: typical symptoms
If there is a pronounced vitamin E deficiency, it can lead to anemia or nerve and muscle breakdown. In addition, symptoms such as indigestion, fatigue and lack of concentration, an increased susceptibility to infection and various allergies may occur.
To remedy a vitamin E deficiency, vitamin E capsules can be taken in different dosages. Often, these are also available in combination with the also antioxidant vitamins A and C. Supposedly, the high-dose intake of such preparations should be able to prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, muscle and joint diseases, impotence and stress and menopausal symptoms. However, this effect is not scientifically proven.
A Japanese study has even shown that high-dose vitamin E supplements in mice and rats cause damage to the bone. Whether these results apply to humans will need to be reviewed in future studies. In general, instead of high-dose capsules, it is better to resort to vegetable foods with a high vitamin E content.
Overdose of vitamin E
Over the food overdose with vitamin E is not possible, only by the intake of dietary supplements correspondingly high doses can be achieved. If you take too much vitamin E, however, this usually has no side effects. For cans up to 300 milligrams per day are considered acceptable for health reasons.
Symptoms such as indigestion, nausea, fatigue, headache, and increased bleeding tendency can occur only with a long-term, strong overdose of over 800 milligrams daily.