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Vitamin E Intake is Vital during the First 1,000 Days of Life, Review Finds

Update Date: Sep 15, 2014 01:56 PM EDT

The importance of vitamin E consumption has been debated over the years. Experts have argued about how much vitamin E is too much and whether or not people should be maintaining their vitamin E levels in order to prevent a deficiency. According to a review of multiple studies, researchers are reporting that adequate vitamin E intake is essential, especially for young children, seniors and women who are or plan to become pregnant.

"Many people believe that vitamin E deficiency never happens," principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, Maret Traber, a professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences at Oregon State University, said. "That isn't true. It happens with an alarming frequency both in the United States and around the world. But some of the results of inadequate intake are less obvious, such as its impact on things like nervous system and brain development, or general resistance to infection."

In this review, the researcher found a link between poor vitamin E levels and the increased risks of infection, anemia, stunted growth and adverse outcomes during pregnancy for mother and child. The team also found that children who were severely deficient had a greater risk of suffering from neurological disorders, muscle deterioration and possibly, cardiomyopathy. In one of the studies, two-year-old children who consumed sufficient levels of vitamin E had improved mental capabilities. The team also examined animal studies and reported finding a link between vitamin E consumption and the development of the nervous system in embryos.

"It's important all of your life, but the most compelling evidence about vitamin E is about a 1000-day window that begins at conception," Traber said according to the press release. "Vitamin E is critical to neurologic and brain development that can only happen during that period. It's not something you can make up for later."

Vitamin E can be difficult to get from diet only. Some of the foods that contain this vitamin include nuts, seeds, wheat germ, spinach and sunflower oil. For people who do not consume these products often, supplements could help fulfill the recommended 15 milligrams per day for adults.

The study was published in the journal, Advances in Nutrition.

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