There has been a lack of consensus among researchers about the adequate amount of vitamin E a person should ideally take. A recent analysis suggests that adequate level of this essential micronutrient is definitely important throughout life but is especially critical in the first 1000 days of life that starts from conception. Vitamin E is important for neurologic and brain development that happens during that period and cannot be made up later in life. It is critical for those who are very young, for the elderly and for women who are pregnant or are planning pregnancy.
Vitamin E is one of those essential micronutrients that is often difficult to obtain through diet alone. Even in developed countries like the United States only a tiny fraction of people are consuming dietary vitamin E in adequate quantity. Maret Traber, a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute and national expert on vitamin E says that often false alarms are raised by some critics about excessive vitamin E intake. However, the fact is vitamin E intake in most people's diet is not sufficient. Traber says that there are many people who say that vitamin E deficiency never occur. That is not true. In fact, deficiency of Vitamin E is occurring in the United States and around the world at an alarming frequency. Since, the results of the same are less obvious, they often go unnoticed. Vitamin E deficiency can have a big impact on the nervous system, brain development and immunity.
The best dietary sources of Vitamin E include nuts, seeds, spinach, sun flower oil and wheat germ. Unfortunately, these sources do not rank high in an average American's diet. People are health conscious and who make the effort to eat a proper diet consume enough vitamin E. But, the trends in the general population show that an estimated 96 % women and about 90% men do not consume 15 milligrams of Vitamin E per day, which is the minimum recommended amount.
Some of the recent findings about Vitamin E outlined by Traber as stated in a review of multiple studies published in Advances in Nutrition, include the importance of vitamin E during fetal development and in the first years of life; the relation between vitamin E intake and dementia later in life; and the shortcoming of evaluating vitamin E levels through blood samples alone. The findings reveal:
– Insufficient vitamin E intake is associated with increased chances of infection, anemia, and poor results during pregnancy for both the child and the mother.
– In case the deficiency is very high, it can lead to neurological disorders and muscles detoriation in children.
– Vitamin E has a big role to play in the early development of the nervous system in the embryos.
– Higher vitamin E concentration is associated with improved cognitive function in two year old kids.
– Measuring vitamin E levels via blood sample alone is not reliable as vitamin E level in the blood rise with age as lipid levels also rise. But, that doesn't indicate if the tissues and organs are getting enough of it.
– Vitamin E intake cannot prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer's disease, but it has shown to slow down in progression.
– One of the critical fatty acids DHA is protected by Vitamin E. People with high DHA concentration have a 47% less chance of developing dementia.
– People who eat a balanced diet to get adequate levels of vitamins B, C, D and E are known to have larger brain size and higher cognitive function.
Traber recommends Vitamin E supplement for all people with at least the estimated average requirement, especially for the infants, pregnant women and the elderly.