Vitamin E belongs to the group of fat soluble vitamins responsible for protecting the body against free radicals. Free radicals deteriorate a cell and cause it to be destroyed or mutate into malfunctioning or cancerous cells. Our bodies are exposed to free radicals constantly both from external factors and internally. Chemicals (such as smoke) are free radical that affects the body’s cells.
The body also produces free radicals form within itself when it rids the cells of waste products. Antioxidants provide a layer of defense for the body to use in warding off the damage from free radicals. The problem is that vitamin supplements are readily available (without prescription) and people tend to self medicate by taking too much and causing vitamin E overdose symptoms.
Vitamin E overdose symptoms in adults are very uncommon. For a long time it was thought that vitamin E overdose symptoms were impossible because vitamin E did not reach high enough levels to produce symptoms. Now, though very rare, it does occur infrequently. Fat soluble vitamins (such as E) are held in the adipose (fat) tissue cell’s fluid. Over prolonged period of an excess of vitamin E can build up in the fat cells. In developed countries (such as the US), vitamin E is consumed in adequate quantities and supplements are not needed. Foods that can be consumed to provide vitamin E deficiency symptoms include:
- Oils (such as vegetable)
- Green leafy vegetables (like spinach)
- Whole grains
- Sunflower seeds
- Fortified cereals
- Nuts and Peanut Butter
Since research has studies that both support and dispute claims that additional vitamin E can effectively help prevent cancers, Alzheimer’s, and other degenerative (destructive) conditions from forming, people have been quick to take large quantities of supplements which may lead to vitamin E overdose symptoms.
Vitamin E supplements can be taken in appropriate quantities for additional amounts not obtained in the diet. Maximum intake levels have been computed and are as follows: Adults over 19 years of age should not consume over 1000 mg (22.4 IU) per day. Children have a graduated dosage scale according to age:
- 1-3 years of age should not consume more than 200 mg (300 IU) per day
- 4-8 years of age should not consume more than 300 mg (450 IU)
- 9-13 years of age should not consume more than 600 mg (900 IU)
- 14-18 years of age should not consume more than 800 mg (1200 IU) per day
Unfortunately methods of testing for vitamin E overdose symptoms are not accurate at this time. Diagnosis can only be made by presence of symptoms. Vitamin E overdose symptoms include:
- Bruising and/or excess bleeding
- Muscle Weakness
- Appearance of oily stools
Treatment recommendations are to stop any vitamin E supplements. Symptoms should slowly fade away. The most positive way to get your vitamin E (while not risking overdose symptoms) is to consume healthy diet and remove the need for supplements. Natural occurring vitamin E (like that in the foods listed above) is much easier used by the body.