Can the lack of Vitamin E cause neuropathy?

Vitamin E

A Neuropathy Patient wrote:  (Permission granted to use the story.)

“My neuropathy is caused by long term malabsorbtion of vitamin E.  I saw a neurologist at Mayo Clinic, after years of “treatment” in my home town. The diagnosis was polyradiculoneuropathy with ataxia. Why do I not see more information about the lack of Vitamin E as a cause of neuropathy? I am ten years into diagnosis, but symptoms started about ten years earlier.  I have 4 1/2 feet of small intestine removed and suspect there may be Cohn’s disease patient’s that develop neuropathy. “ Patient: Wanda Conatser

Good question and it could be asked of many types of neuropathy with different causes.

Dr. Latov mentions vitamin E deficiency as one of the many causes of PN in his book on page 22 and more specifically on page 25.   Page 25 reads as if he had this patient in mind when he wrote it.  Peripheral Neuropathy: When the Numbness, Weakness, and Pain Won’t Stop from  List of other Books On Neuropathy.

Neurologists who are aware of this and test for other causes of neuropathy are growing daily. Hopefully the amount of clinical training for the diagnosis and treatment of neuropathy will continue to increase, but we are far from being there yet.   These are brilliant men who are making simple errors simply due to the lack of diagnostic tools, as well as the lack of clinical training in the diagnosis and treatment of neuropathy.    We have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go in the training up of neurologists in the diagnosis and treatment of the neuropathy patient.

Years ago, one such neurologist did the same thing that another well trained neurologist did to me in 2000, costing horrible increases in disability, because treatment was delayed another four years.  The doctor tested the reflexes of the patient on that particular visit and found that the reflexes were not that bad.   Every ounce of medical literature on the subject of reflexes notes that they are sometimes absent or diminished, but not always in various neuropathies.   The same material notes that neuropathy patients, experience symptoms in a remitting and relapsing pattern and may be absent on a particular office visit.  Now this does not sound like an endorsement for much of anything when it comes testing reflexes alone as a diagnostic tool.  See article on Remitting and Relapsing Pattern.

These are brilliant doctors and often the teachers of neurology, yet they ignored what Walter Bradley, MD from University of Miami told me on a visit.  Doctors need to look at the patient HISTORY, when all else fails and consider what other doctors have noted and not dismiss it!   This simple change in behavior will help both patients and doctors as they seek to find solutions for neuropathy. Working with the Doctor.  The good news is that we are making progress in these areas thanks to the work of many patients and the growing number of trained neurologists!

These issues make it imperative that we patients advocate to everyone including any doctor who might be willing to listen at every opportunity.   I have done this by taking the Neuropathy Support Network poster to them, asking them to post it on the wall of their office for patients.  I have purchased and given doctors a copy of Dr. Norman Latov’s book, asking them to refer patients to the Neuropathy Support Network  and even gave them a copy of the FREE DVD “Coping with Chronic Neuropathy“.

So to every neuropathy patient, keep asking these questions and seeking answers and as you learn, share what you find with other patients and the doctors!  You never know when you will find someone who is brilliant and secure enough to listen to what you share.  Oh, and by the way, if you find a good doctor who is helpful and knowledgeable, why not let us know at the Neuropathy Support Network?  Send the information to


About the Author

LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS

Col Richardson has suffered with severe neuropathy for over 45 years. A 27 year military veteran and veteran of the Vietnam War, he was diagnosed with a progressive chronic peripheral neuropathy resulting in severe disability. This diagnosis has been confirmed as due to exposure to Agent Orange. It was not until 2010, 42 years after his exposure to Agent Orange, that his diagnosis was recognized by Veterans Affairs as service connected.

Author Archive Page


  1. I am trying to learn more
    I think it is voluntary (central nervous system) peripheral neuropathy I have
    as it is bad when I use my legs
    best regards
    James Butler

    1. Jim: Peripheral Neuropathy in general does not affect the central nervous system. The damage is directly to the Peripheral Nerves themselves whether motor, sensory or autonomic nerves. Please send an e mail regarding your concerns and we will be able to send more information. Since MS does affect the brain an CNS, leading to symptoms similar to PN, you should make sure that the Neuromuscular Neurologist rules out MS.

    1. Dr. Stott: Only part of a message containing part of your address came through. If you want to send a message or comment directly to me, you can send it to E Mail: Was concerned that the website cut off what you wanted to say. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not work as expected!

  2. Hi,
    I am 65 was diagnosed with SFN early this year when I was 64. Apparently my biopsiesI showed that I have 1.8 working fibres to the MM instead of the normal 5 to 8 .
    I had been suffering with intense and prolonged itching for nearly 7 years and been given cream, seen allergists, Gynaecologist and dermatologists, none of which helped.I was found to be very Vit d depleted and B6 toxic. My B6 with levels over 5 times the norm. My levels are reduced to normal now and yet the itching persists.
    I have also recently had breast cancer and am very sensitive to hormones. The neurological symptoms were much worse when I was given a Mirena coil (progesterone)
    I suffered the effects of this coil for 7 months during which time all my neurological symptoms got worse…the itching remained the same. Latterly I had also experienced some more typical SFN symptoms, such as pins and needles ,tight feelings around ankles etc.
    However, these are all manageable whereas the itching really isn’t!
    A few questions:

    Can a hormone imbalance cause SFN?

    Could my itching be attributable to anything else?

    If my B6 levels are now back to normal and this was the cause of the neuropathy , is there any chance that some of my small fibre nerves will regenerate.

    Is it possible that acupuncture or hypnotherapy could help me deal with the intense itching sensations?

    I would love to hear from you with any suggestions as this condition is driving me mad and so incapacitating.
    Thank you.

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