Vitamin E deficiency in developing countries

Food Nutr Bull. 2011 Jun;32(2):124-43. doi: 10.1177/156482651103200206.


In addition to its role as a potent antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in a wide range of physiological processes, ranging from immune function and control of inflammation to regulation of gene expression and cognitive performance. Results from multiple studies suggest that poor nutritional status and higher prevalence of other oxidative stressors such as malaria and HIV infection predispose populations in developing countries for vitamin E deficiency. Although direct comparison between study outcomes is complicated by varied definitions of vitamin E deficiency, data trends indicate that children and the elderly are more vulnerable age groups and that men may be at higher risk for deficiency than women. Public health initiatives aimed at improving the vitamin E status of high-risk populations in developing countries would be prudent to counteract oxidative stress, improve immune function, and protect against neurologic and cognitive deficits. Additional research is needed to establish dose-response relationships of various interventions and to develop cost-effective, culturally-appropriate, and targeted programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin E / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin E / chemistry
  • Vitamin E / physiology
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / immunology
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / prevention & control*
  • Vulnerable Populations


  • Vitamin E