Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Test

What is Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Test?

A vitamin E test measures the amount of alpha-tocopherol — one of the eight forms of vitamin E — in the blood or tissues. It's important for the body to maintain adequate levels of this nutrient for many of the body's functions, including metabolic, antioxidant, and heart health.

Why is this Test Performed?

This test is performed to identify if the body has any deficiencies or excess levels of vitamin E. An excessively low level of vitamin E in the blood serum may be a sign of malabsorption or a condition called abetalipoproteinemia (characterized by low levels of blood lipids). A low level could also be the result of excessive fat loss, impairing the body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Excessively high levels of vitamin E could point to vitamin E toxicity or an underlying condition.

Preparation for Vitamin E Test

In most cases, no significant preparation is required for a vitamin E test. The general guidelines to follow before any laboratory test includes avoiding alcohol and caffeine for at least 48 hours prior. You might also be asked to fast for between 8 and 12 hours before your test.

Procedure of Vitamin E Test

A blood sample is usually taken from the vein in the arm. It is then sent to a medical laboratory for testing. In some cases, tests may be done on other body fluids and tissues, such as amniotic fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, and fat.

Types of Vitamin E Tests

There are different types of vitamin E tests that measure different forms of the vitamin in the body:

  • Alpha-tocopherol test – the most common and active form of vitamin E in the body
  • Beta-, gamma- and delta-tocopherol tests – measure other forms of vitamin E
  • Total vitamin E test – measures the total amount of vitamin E in blood, including all eight forms of vitamin E

Risks and Complications of Vitamin E Test

In general, a vitamin E test carries no risk of complications. The risks of taking a blood sample for laboratory tests include slight pain, bruising, bleeding, and feeling lightheaded.

When to Consider Vitamin E Test

Consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns about your vitamin E levels. It’s recommended that you also consider vitamin E tests if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Loss of coordination
  • Unusual balance problems
  • Impaired vision
  • Unexpected weight gain or loss
  • Reduced feeling in hands and feet

What the Results Mean?

The results of the vitamin E test depend on a variety of factors such as the individual’s age, general health, and medical history. The body requires a certain amount of vitamin E, so if the test results show levels below normal, the individual may have a vitamin E deficiency. An excessively high level indicates vitamin E toxicity. It is important to consult with your provider to interpret the results of your vitamin E test.