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Vitamin E is an antioxidant important in protecting body tissue from damage caused by unstable substances called free radicals, which are produced by cigarette smoke, sunlight, pollution and chemical reactions in the body. Vitamin E is also important in the formation of red blood cells, keeping the immune system healthy and helps the body to use vitamin K.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that must be obtained through our diet as the body is unable to make it. Good sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, eggs, nuts, seeds, whole grains and green leafy vegetables. Vitamin E supplements are available.
In the UK, vitamin E deficiencies are rare and are not usually because of a poor diet. Because vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, a vitamin E deficiency is more likely to occur in those with digestive system problems where nutrients are poorly absorbed including pancreatic disease, gallbladder disease, celiac disease and liver disease.
Symptoms of a deficiency in vitamin E include muscle weakness, deterioration of muscle mass, vision problems and anaemia.