Effects of Deficiency of Vitamin E

The effects of vitamin E deficiency in rat and human being are given below

   Effects in Rats

  1. There is a damage to the germinal epithelium of the testes and ovaries. In males the change is permanent and causes sterility. In females the change is reversible.
  2. In the deficient condition, a female rat can become pregnant but the fetus usually dies and is reabsorbed. Pregnancy can again take place but the fetuses are again reabsorbed. With severe deficiency even gestation stops. However as stated above, the defect in the female can reversed by vitamin E.
  3. There are structural and functional defects in the skeletal muscle, cardiac muscle, smooth muscles and the peripheral vascular system. Muscular dystrophies take place. The muscle utilizes more oxygen; creatine elimination in the urine increase upto 15 time the normal value (creatinuria).
  4. There may also be hepatic necrosis in the rat. This lesion can be cured with vitamin E or even with selenium.
  5. Paresis results from lesions in the spinal cord.

   Effects of vitamin E deficiency in Human beings

  1. In vitamin E deficiency red blood cells become more susceptible to the hemolyzing action of H2O2. The in vivo red cell survival time is decreased and may lead to anemia. Vitamin E has been found to be of benefit in certain form of anemia; these include macrocytic anemia of children with severe protein-caloric malnutrition, hemolytic anemia of premature infants, anemia seen in acanthocytosis and anemia seen in various malabsorption syndromes characterized by steatorrhea (e.g. sprue, cystic fibrosis, chronic pancreatitis).
  2. Children suffering from vitamin E deficiency showed a decreased muscle creatine associated with creatinuria. Administration of vitamin E reversed these changes. However, vitamin E had no effect on the creatine excretion in patients suffering from progressive muscular dystrophy. Moreover, no beneficial effects of vitamin E have so far been shown on human reproductive system and the justification of using vitamin E in the treatment of habitual abortions and other abnormalities of the reproductive system is questionable. In fact essential nature of vitamin E has been recently question and according to some vitamin E may be having the same role as Coenzymes Q.
  3. Vitamin E has been claimed to be useful in the treatment of angina pectoris, coronary insufficiency and peripheral vascular disease.

   Mechanism of action of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a strong anti-oxidant and many of the effects attributed to vitamin E may be due to its sparing action on vitamin A and many other cellular constituents. By same action, it also prevents the formation of toxic oxidative products such as those from unsaturated fatty acids. Vitamin E helps in maintaining the integrity of lipid mostly of the cell membranes. It may also have some role in electron transport system.