Those of us attempting to get our nutrients from food alone, will very likely end up deficient in a lot of micronutrients. Part of this is because we do not eat like we should, and part of it is because the soil just does not have the micronutrients it once had.
In general, my solution to this is the following: eat organic food that is available and affordable and take a good multivitamin.
Vitamin E: Chronically Deficient In Our Youth
But sometimes, looking at symptoms of individual deficiencies can be useful to reinforce the concept of a multi- and some people might have a higher need for a particular nutrient than a blanket one-size-fits-all multivitamin dose. So on that note, I will highlight Vitamin E, because one study found that 90% of 20-somethings and 70% of 30-somethings are deficient in it.
That is probably due in large part to a crappy diet, let us be honest. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, (unprocessed) oils, wheat germ (not plain white Wonder Bread), and avocados. Here are some of the reasons why vitamin-E matters.
What Vitamin E Does For You
It is one of the constellation of nutrients that help to quench free radicals. And as we all know by now, oxidative damage is implicated in the majority of Western diseases—like heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.
It actually helps to restore NK (Natural Killer) cells: those cells in the immune system that go around looking for rogue cells to gobble them up.
Deficiency of Vitamin E is associated with higher levels of inflammatory cytokines.
Adequate Vitamin E can lower the IgE immunoglobulins, associated with hypersensitivity allergic reactions.
Protects Against Blood Clots
This would not be a great thing going into surgery, nor for someone who already has a hard time clotting. But for those who are at risk for clots, it might be a good adjunctive treatment. Do of course make sure that you check with your doctor for any interactions with medications you might be on.
Vitamin E deficiency can lead to neurological symptoms such as gait disturbances and poor reflexes.
What Too Much Vitamin E Looks Like
Do not just go out and take a bunch of it without paying attention, though. The therapeutic range generally starts at 200 IU and goes no higher than 1600 IU, and this may be far too high for many people. Overdose symptoms include fatigue, headache, poor wound healing, increased bleeding, and muscle weakness.
It is possible to get tested for individual nutrient levels, to see what is high and what is low. I do not run this routinely, because again, most of the time a good diet and a multivitamin can take care of it. But, I would make sure you are taking a good multivitamin with at minimum of the RDA of Vitamin E (22 IU for an adult), and get tested if you think you might be low.