Neurologic findings in vitamin E deficiency

Am Fam Physician. 1997 Jan;55(1):197-201.


Vitamin E is one of the most important lipid-soluble antioxidant nutrients. Severe vitamin E deficiency can have a profound effect on the central nervous system. Cystic fibrosis, chronic cholestatic liver disease, abetalipoproteinemia, short bowel syndrome, isolated vitamin E deficiency syndrome and other malabsorption syndromes all may cause varying degrees of neurologic deficits due to related vitamin deficiencies. The classic abnormalities in vitamin E deficiency progress from hyporeflexia, ataxia, limitations in upward gaze and strabismus to long-tract defects, profound muscle weakness and visual field constriction. Patients with severe, prolonged deficiency may develop complete blindness, dementia and cardiac arrhythmias. Treatment must be tailored to the underlying cause of vitamin E deficiency and may include oral or parenteral vitamin supplementation. The more advanced the deficits, the more limited the response to therapy. Therefore, a good neurologic examination and periodic serum vitamin E levels are essential in patients at risk of vitamin E deficiency.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholestasis / complications
  • Cystic Fibrosis / complications
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology*
  • Short Bowel Syndrome / complications
  • Syndrome
  • Vitamin E / blood
  • Vitamin E / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / etiology


  • Vitamin E