Friday, January 23, 2015

Kegel Exercises: A Proven How-To Guide

             What Are Kegels?

Kegel exercises or kegels are simple and discreet exercises performed on the “pelvic floor” region of the body, with the goal of strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and improving several uncomfortable symptoms.
Many women, and men too, who struggle with controlling their bladder and urination, who are looking to improve their intimate life with their partner, and who have experienced weakening of the pelvic floor during or following pregnancy all have successfully improved these symptoms by effectively practicing kegels.
One of the best things about kegel exercises? You can practice them anywhere, at any time, and no one will even know you’re doing them! In fact some people report performing them as they shower, drive to work, or any other time that reminds them to practice for at least a few minutes daily,

How Kegels Strengthen the Pelvic Floorfemale reproductive organs

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles which are responsible for supporting the function of other organs including the uterus, bladder, intestines and rectum. The proper name for the pelvic floor muscles, also called the pelvic diaphragm, is thelevator ani.
This name refers to a group of muscles- the pubococcygeus, puborectalis and ileococcygeus- which all move and work together in the pelvic area to control sexual arousal and urination. These muscles wrap around the urethra, and that’s why when their strength is improved, you experience more control over your ability to start and stop urination.
Studies have demonstrated that by exercising these specific muscles, meaning practicing series of contracting and then relaxing them, they become stronger and better able to control unwanted symptoms (1). Most people are able to see results from kegel exercises within 4-8 weeks of regularly practicing them, although for some people it takes up to several months to see a real improvement in pelvic strength.

Who Should Perform Kegel Exercises?

If you experience any of these symptoms, you can benefit from regularly practicing some simple kegel exercises:
  • You have weak control over your bladder and sometimes you experience a “leak” when you do things like exercise, laugh, and strongly cough (this is called urinary incontinence) (2)
  • You suffer similar problems with bowel movements and tend to feel like you cannot control things when you need to go to the bathroom (this is called fecal incontinence)
  • You have been diagnosed with “urinary incontinence”, which is a strong and sudden sensation of having to urinate and then having little control over stopping it from happening
  • You had a pregnancy and delivery that left your pelvic floor feeling different and less strong than it felt prior to being pregnant
  • You are pregnant and want to work on strengthening your pelvis in order to prepare for the bodily stress of labor
  • You had surgery performed on any of the organs involved in the pelvic floor region, including the bladder, uterus, intestines, or rectum which make it difficult for you to control these organs and to properly eliminate waste
  • You are finding that as you age, you have less control over your pelvic floor than you used to have
  • Being overweight has limited the strength in your pelvic floor, resulting in unwanted symptoms
  • You are either a man or women who has trouble reaching orgasms and want to improve your sex life

How-to Guide: Beginning Your Kegels 

Step 1. You need to locate the muscles within your body that will be used in kegal exercisestoilet bowl

You can do this by going to the bathroom to urinate, and stopping your stream midway. Pay attention to which muscles you needed to engage to effectively hold urination from continuing.
This will show you whether or not you have a weakened pelvic floor, but keep in mind  that this method is only used for initially locating the muscles, and shouldn’t be used again and again because it can damage the urethra.

woman lying on her back

Step 2. After locating your muscles, start practicing basic exercise “contractions”

Begin kegel exercises by lying flat on your back on a firm bed or floor. If laying on the floor, I recommend using an exercise mat for comfort.
Try to locate the same muscles you used to stop urination and tighten those muscles, holding for several seconds as if you are once again stopping yourself from going to the bathroom. Work your way up to holding the contraction (tightening) for 5 seconds, then relax your muscles. Give yourself a rest of a few seconds, and keep repeating this method.

Step 3. Increase your Pelvic Floor Strength by Holding Contractions for Longer

Once you’ve gotten the hang of holding muscle contractions for 5 seconds, work your way up to 10 seconds. Aim to do a series of 10 seconds of tightening, then 10 seconds of relaxing. Perform this series 10 times.

Step 4. Practice EVERYDAY: 3 Sets of Kegels, 10 Reps per Setcounting the days

Completing 3 sets of 10 exercises reps daily is the goal for kegel exercises. Keep in mind that you are targeting your pelvic floor muscles, the same ones used to stop urination.
You do not want to rely on tightening your abs, upper thighs or glute (butt) muscles, so get to know which muscles you are really working with and keep practicing tightening them for 10 seconds at a time.

If You’re Having Trouble Correctly Practicing Kegel Exercises

Many people report initially having trouble locating the “kegel muscles” , so if you’re not feeling confident about your ability to perform the exercises correctly, you’re not alone. If you still aren’t sure if you’re reaching the correct muscles, you can try using these techniques:
  • Women can try inserting their finger into their vagina and squeezing their finger, then letting go. If you effectively are able to squeeze your finger, you are using the correct muscles
  • Men can do the same within their rectum; they can try inserting a finger and squeezing it to see if the pelvic floor is being engaged
  • You can also seek the help of a physical therapist who will work with you to increase not only the correct pelvic muscles, but also the core and quadriceps muscles’ strength, which play a part in the pelvic floor as well. For example, some people find it helpful to practice Pilates-style exercise moves to build more muscle strength through the entire core and pelvis, helping to actively engage kegal muscles
  • Research shows that properly locating the right kegal muscles is key for experiencing full benefits, so be sure to take your time finding the right group of muscles so you can get the best results (3)

The History of Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises were first created and documented by American gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1948. In his published report, Dr. Kegel claimed that by practicing non-surgical targeted kegel exercises regularly, women were able to strengthen their pelvic muscles and as a consequence to experience a better sex life, healthier pregnancy delivery, having more control over their orgasms, and more.
Dr. Kegel believed that a certain dysfunction of the “pubococcygeus” area of the women’s pelvis left them with weakened muscles that were to blame for symptoms like a lack of feeling during sex and an inability to have orgasms. Today, researchers encourage kegel exercises for additional benefits beyond an improve sex life, especially for controlling urinary incontinence (4) (5) (6).

Pregnancy Exercises

Kegel Exercises for Pregnancy

The pelvic muscles play a very important role in a healthy pregnancy, working to support the weight of the growing and expanding uterus during pregnancy and helping to stretch the region during labor. This means the kegel muscles are essentially working overtime during pregnancy and can afterwards become weakened and stretched past their comfortable point once the delivery is over.
Luckily kegel exercises help to build back their elasticity and strength following child birth, helping to control symptoms of postpartum urine incontinence and difficulty enjoying sex. Several studies have shown that kegel exercises can significantly reduce symptoms of urinary and fecal incontinence in pregnant and postpartum women (7) (8).
It’s also useful to build the kegel muscles prior to labor, this way they are more powerful at helping to facilitate labor. Practicing before labor also improves strength in the perenium, which is the area located between the vagina and rectum that can easily tear during labor.
NOTE: While performing kegel exercises,  if you experience any lower back discomfort, then you may use an exercise ball under to your feet to give relieve the pressure on your back.


Kegel Exercises for A Better Sex Life

While more research still needs to be conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of kegels on a better sex life, many women and men report that having a strengthened pelvic region can improve their ability to achieve orgasms.
The pelvic muscles are used during sex to create friction and contractions that can lead to orgasm, so improving circulation, sensation, and ability to contract these muscles may be able to help those struggling with having an orgasm.
There is no specific protocol for exercising kegels related to a better sex life; the same method is used as for controlling urine incontinence and for pregnant women.
Some women like to test whether their kegel muscles are become stronger by using a vaginal cone or device that they can practice holding in place with their pubic muscles. Doing this prior to sex can engage the correct muscles and improve blood flow, which may be able to help with an orgasm.

Kegel Exercises for Men

Though most commonly used by women, men can also use kegel exercises. Kegels are useful for men to achieve the same results as in women- strengthening the pubococcygeal muscle and other muscles of the pelvic diaphragm that control sexual arousal and urination. Some evidence shows that kegels can help to improve erections, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence in men who have weakened pelvic muscles.
Some men experience weakening in this region due to aging, surgical removal of the prostate, symptoms related to diabetes, or due to having an overactive bladder. The most popular reason for men to practice kegels is to improve control over urination, especially the occurrence of uncontrolled dripping after urinating. Men can follow the same direction as women to effectively begin practicing kegel exercises.

Pelvic Toner Devices for Strengthening Kegel Muscleswoman lying on a yoga mat

In addition to practicing basic kegels that require no devices or equipment, some women choose to try pelvic toner devices.  Most often these devices are used discreetly by women in their own home, and are not commonly used by physicians, because basic kegel exercises have proven to be just as, or even more effective, than devices at targeting the correct muscles.
There are a variety of devices on the market including electro-stimulation devices, vaginal cones, resistance bars and balls, and resistance bands that include springs (which is the type promoted by Dr. Kegel). Studies have shown that simple kegel exercises actually do a better job of reaching the desired muscles than devices, so at this time doctors usually don’t recommend women use devices.
One added benefit of using pelvic devices seems to be that some types offer biofeedback, which tells someone when they are targeting the right muscles or when they are not engaging correctly. This type of biofeedback is most often available in electro-stimulation devices, which are the kind used most commonly in doctor’s offices.
Electro-stimulation devices produce a reading of how strong the kegel contractions are and if they are being performed properly, which can show how strength is building as time goes on. Electrical devices like this help to send the women positive reinforcement and works using electrodes which are placed on the pelvis region.
Because kegels can be performed anywhere using no equipment and take minimal time and effort, there’s no reason to not give them a try if you struggle with urinary incontinence or want to improve your sex life. Unlike taking medication or relying on surgery, kegels can offer a natural and effective way to improve these unwanted pelvic conditions.

Sardines Nutrition and Benefits

Why should I eat sardines? You’ll be surprised by the answer. Sardines are one of the highest sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids on the planet, and they include manyother important trace minerals and vitamins.
If you’re currently not consuming sardines very often, but you’ll likely want to change that after reading how impressive the health benefits of sardines nutrition can be.
Finding the best sources of important omega-3 fats from fish may seem confusing- with topics like contamination of fresh waters, depletion of fish populations from the oceans, and toxins and heavy metals frequently making headlines in the press.
But luckily with sardines, you get all of the nutritional benefits without needing to worry about things like sustainability or high levels of mercury contamination.
It’s also easier to use sardines in the recipes you’re already making than you may think; canned sardines can easily be found in most grocery stores and make a great addition to sauces, salads, soups, and more.
Start experimenting more with sardines today, in order to take advantage of their impressive benefits: boosting heart health, improving brain function, protecting against cancer, reducing inflammation, filling common nutrient deficiencies and much more!

Sardines Nutrition

Check out all these sardines nutrition benefits! Only 3 oz. of sardines provides (in recommended daily values):
Fresh raw sardines
  • 190 calories
  • 23 grams of protein
  • 11 grams of fat
  • 338% vitamin B12
  • 87% selenium
  • 64% phosphorus
  • 61% omega-3 fats
  • 44% vitamin D
  • 35% calcium
  • 30% vitamin B3
  • 24% iodine
  • 19% copper
  • 16% choline 

7 Benefits of Sardines Nutrition

1. Reduces Inflammation & Risk of DiseaseInflammation in joints

Sardines are one of the best natural sources in the world of essential omega 3 fatty acids, with one 3.2 oz. can providing roughly 50% of your daily needs. Sardines nutrition provides both EPA and DHA, which are two fatty acids that studies shown the body uses to reduce inflammation, resulting in improved hearth health, the ability to maintain proper brain function, helping to ward off gum disease, and much more (1).
The numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are related to their ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, leading them to be effective in the treatment and prevention of hundreds of medical conditions. Some of the best reasons to consume foods like sardines that are high in omega-3 are their ability to help defend against: mood disorders like depression and anxiety, ADHD, various types of cancer, arthritis, infertility, and especially heart disease (2) (3) (4).
Omega-3 fatty acids have importantly been shown to lower unhealthy cholesterol levelsand triglycerides, making them one of the most important foods for a healthy cardiovascular system.
Omega-3 fats come in three forms: DHA, EPA, and ALA. ALA is found in plant foods including walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds for example. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish including sardines, and also salmon and mackerel. EPA and DHA have been shown to be the most beneficial and easily absorbed by the body, which makes sardines and even more beneficial option for obtaining these specific kinds of fatty acids.

2. Provides Many Essential Vitamins and Minerals Vitamins

Sardines nutrition contains so many essential nutrients that they make my list for my top food lists for vitamin B12vitamin Dcalcium, and selenium! In addition, sardines are a great source of numerous other B vitamins, phosphorus, iodine, copper, choline, and more.
There is almost no part of the body that sardines nutrition doesn’t contribute to in a positive way- from heart health to metabolismcellular function to maintaining a positive mood.
Vitamin B12
Studies have shown that around 40% of Americans are actually deficient in importantvitamin B12, a water soluble vitamin that helps to maintain function including nerve function, brain health, blood cell formation, energy levels, and more (5).
Vitamin B12 deficiency, even a mild one, can cause symptoms including nerve damage, impaired mental function, problems properly getting oxygen into cells, and chronic fatigue. One can of sardines provides a whopping 338% of your daily Vitamin B12 needs!
Sardines also provide high levels of selenium, with over 80% of your daily needs in one can. Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is actually an important antioxidant, required for your body to create and convert glutathione- known as the “master antioxidant”.
Selenium helps prevent oxidative damage in the body (also called free radical damage), helps iodine to regulate metabolism, facilitates with the process of recycling vitamin C in the body, and improves cellular function and protection. Selenium is an important mineral for supporting detoxification since it has the ability to take stress off the digestive and endocrine organs like the liver and thyroid.
A deficiency in selenium can result in thyroid impairment, increased chances of becoming sick due to a poor immune system, reproductive problems due to imbalanced hormones, mood disorders, and heart disease.

close up of healthy and unhealthy bones

3. Protects Bone Health with High Levels of Calcium & Vitamin D

Sardines are a great source of various vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining a healthy skeletal structure, especially these 3:calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus. Consuming foods rich in calcium like sardines can prevent bone mineral loss and help to heal broken bones following injuries.
Calcium is an extremely important mineral in the body, with roughly 99% of the body’s calcium being stored in the bones and teeth. Calcium found within the bone structure is used as a storage area so that the body is able to release calcium into the blood stream when it is needed. The mineral is also importantly used for transmitting nerve signals, forming blood clots, balancing hormones, aiding in muscle contractions, and balancing your bodies’ acid/alkaline level, or pH level.
A deficiency in calcium can result in symptoms including osteoporosis, unhealthy teeth (tooth decay), muscle tension, unhealthy levels of high blood pressure, and more (6) (7). For those who avoid consuming dairy products- which is the food group that most people eating a standard western diet rely on for calcium- sardines make an excellent source of this much-needed mineral in dairy’s place.
Vitamin D
Vitamin D is an important sat soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining healthy bones because it facilitates in the absorption of calcium, along with magnesium and Vitamin K.  Most adults are actually considered to have Vitamin D deficiency, due to spending much of their time inside.
It is often difficult to get enough Vitamin D from food alone without enough sun exposure, but sardines are an excellent source that helps meet daily recommended values with over 40% in one can. A deficiency in vitamin D can result in a softening of the bones called osteomalacia or a bone abnormality called rickets, in addition to poor immune system function, mood disorders, autoimmune diseases, an increased risk for various forms of cancer, hormone imbalances, low energy, and brain disorders (8) (9) (10).
In addition to Vitamin D, phosphorus found in sardines also plays an important role in building and maintaining bone mineralization.


4. Defends Against Mood Disorders Including Anxiety & Depression

Thanks to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, sardines nutrition can help to prevent mood disorders including anxiety and depression. (11)
Many recent studies have focused on omega-3s impact on mental health, particularly EPA, and are concluding that these essential fats can play a vital role in boosting mood and maintaining healthy brain function, helping you to beat depression. The brain itself is made up of roughly 60% fat, so obtaining the right ratio of fatty acids is crucial for the function of the central nervous system and your overall mood (12).
Studies have shown that as omega-3 intake declines, depression rates normally climb. Unfortunately, in the last few decades there has been a significant drop in the amount of omega-3 fatty acids that people living in developed western nations consume on average.
At the same time, the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in the diet has drastically gone up, since these types of fats are found in most processed foods and refined, hydrogenated oils. The balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fats is crucial for overall health, including brain function (13). It’s now believed that an imbalance in these fats is partially to blame for increased rates of anxiety and depression and developed nations.

5. Controls Blood Sugar Levels

Sardines are packed with both healthy fats and protein, which both work to slow down the absorption of sugar into the blood stream. Combining high protein and fat foods like sardines with carbohydrates- especially refined kinds like white bread or pasta- helps the body to release glucose (sugar) from the carbs into the blood stream more slowly, so you avoid a sugar spike followed by a quick dip.
Consuming foods with essential fats and proteins is especially important for people who have diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or other conditions related to insulin resistance.

6. Helps with Feeling Full & Promotes Weight Loss

Sardines are high in both protein and healthy fat, which helps to make you feel full and to curb food cravings. Considering all of their health benefits, sardines are low in calories but high in essential nutrients which many people are often lacking, especially omega-3 fats and Vitamin D. Sardines are a great source of low-calorie protein for people who need to lose some weight but who are watching calorie intake.
Because sardines can help to defend against nutrient deficiencies, to control blood sugar levels, and to maintain a healthy metabolism and energy levels, they are actually beneficial for nearly everyone, whether weight loss is the goal or not. They provide an array of nutrients that support the body following physical activity and promote the feeling of satiety which can help you to maintain a healthy weight.

7. One of Most Sustainable and Least Contaminated Sources of FishSardine School in the Red Sea

One of the best reasons to regularly consume sardines in place of other fish is because of their sustainability and low contaminant levels. Sardines are considered a fish at the bottom of the aquatic food chain because they eat plankton, which means they do not carry toxins and heavy metals as much as many other fish like red snapper, tuna, and swordfish do.
Avoiding pollutants, including heavy metals likemercury, is one of the biggest concerns for many people today, so purchasing sardines is a good way to get important omega-3s from fish without compromising on keeping toxins out of your diet. While many people have concerns over the depletion of fish in oceans due to over-fishing, sardines are believed to be one the most abundant and sustainable sources.
According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch report, sardines caught in the seas of the Pacific region, usually from Canada or US territories, are the most sustainable. This is followed by sardines found in western European waters, while sardines from Mediterranean seas are thought to be the least sustainable overall.

Sardinia, arhipelago la Maddalena, Italy

Sardines Nutrition History

Sardines get their name from the Italian island of Sardinia, where the fish originally were found in abundance swimming in large schools, however their history goes back to the time of emperor Napoleon Bonaparte who first popularized the fish. It’s believed that under Napoleon’s rule, the first sardines were canned as a means to ship and feed citizens in distant places with the abundantly available, but quick-to-soil, fish.
Sardines have been eaten across Europe and North America for hundreds of years, but only recently they have moved into the spotlight more as research continues to tell us that omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits and should be considered an “essential” part of everyone’s diet.
Sardines nutrition has been enjoyed in the seas of the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean region. Today, nations including Spain, Portugal, France, and Norway are the leading producers of canned sardines. Sardines belong to the species of fish known as Clupeidaes; they are a small, salty tasting, salt water fish.
There are actually more than 20 varieties of sardines that are commonly sold throughout the world. All sardine varieties are oily, silver in color, have small bones, and share the same health benefits. Sardines are referred to in different ways around the world, sometimes called small herring in the US or pilchards in Europe and other areas.

Where to Buy Sardines & What Kind to GetSardines

Sardines of course can be eaten fresh and broiled, roasted, or grilled, but most often people buy canned sardines which are widely available in most grocery stores. Sardines are often canned immediately after being caught because they are known to be very perishable.
It’s important to note that there is a big difference in terms of nutrients between freshly caught wild fish, and farmed fish. You always want to purchase and eat wild fish and avoid farm raised fish whenever you can. Fish farms often produce fish using antibiotics and pesticides, plus they feed fish an unnatural diet of grains.
This results in farm fish having lower nutrients than wild fish and more toxins too. Research has found that farmed fish has less usable omega-3 fatty acids than wild-caught fish and a 20% lower protein content. Farmed fish are fattier and have a high concentration of omega-6 fatty acids which can create a dangerous inflammation-causing imbalance between levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids within the body.
It’s best to purchase canned sardines that have been packed in olive oil or water as opposed to soybean oil or other types of refined oils. Sardines tend to last for a decent amount of time once canned, but it’s still best to always check the date to make sure they have not expired and last their nutrients.
Store canned sardines in a cool and dry place, like your kitchen cabinets, and try consuming them within a few months ideally. If you are able to find and purchase fresh sardines, you’ll want to look for small fish with a fresh smell that still remain shiny and firm. Always use fresh sardines with a few days of purchasing them, since they are considered a very perishable fish. You can store them on ice in the refrigerator for several days.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What are the Vitamin E Benefits?


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which plays a role as an antioxidant in the body. It also helps to prevent free radical damage to specific fats in the body that are critical for your health. Vitamin E is an important vitamin that is required for the proper function of many organs in the body and is extremely useful in naturally slowing aging. It is found in many foods including certain oils, nuts, poultry, eggs, fruits, and wheat germ oil. It is also available as a supplement. Vitamin E benefits include treating and preventing diseases of the heart and blood vessels; such as chest pains, high blood pressure, and blocked or hardened arteries. (1)

Top 10 Vitamin E Benefits

Supplementing and consuming vitamin E rich foods have the following health benefits: 
Clogged Artery

1. Balances Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of your cells, nerves, and hormones. When cholesterol levels are in their natural state, they are balanced, normal and healthy. When it oxidizes, it becomes dangerous. Studies have shown that Vitamin E serves as a protective antioxidant that fights cholesterol oxidation (2). This is because vitamin E can fight free radical damage in the body, which leads to cholesterol oxidation.

2. Fights Free Radicals and Prevents Disease Development

Free radicals fight and break down the healthy cells in your body and this can lead to heart disease and cancer. These molecules form naturally in your body and they can cause severe damage when they accelerate or oxidize. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that has the power to reduce free radical damage, fight inflammation, and therefore to help to naturally slow aging in your cells and fight off health issues like heart disease (3). Studies have shown that Vitamin E can significantly increase immunity, therefore helping to prevent both common illnesses and serious conditions from forming (4).

3. Repairs Damaged Skin

Vitamin E helps to strengthen the capillary walls in your skin and to improve moisture and elasticity, acting as a natural anti aging nutrient within your body. Studies have shown that Vitamin E  helps to reduce inflammation both within your body and on your skin, helping to maintain healthy, youthful skin (5). These antioxidant properties are also helpful when you are exposed to cigarette smoke or ultraviolet rays from sunlight, protecting against skin cancer.Taking vitamin E with vitamin C fights skin inflammation after exposure to UV radiation and can also be useful in decreasing signs of acne and eczema. Vitamin E also helps the healing process in the skin. It is absorbed by the epidermis layer of the skin and can be used to treat sunburn, which is one of the leading causes of skin cancer among other factors. Because it speeds up cell regeneration, it can be used to treat scars, acne, and wrinkles; this makes your skin look healthier and younger.

healthy thick hair

4. Thickens Hair

Because Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, it helps to decrease environmental damage to your hair. It can also promote circulation to the scalp. Vitamin E oil can retain the natural moisture in your skin, which will help your scalp from becoming dry and flakey. This oil will also make your hair look healthier and fresher. You can apply a few drops of vitamin E oil on your hair, especially if it is looking dry and dull.

5. Balances Hormones

Vitamin E can help to play a crucial role in balancing your endocrine and nervous system, naturally working to help keep your hormones balanced (6). Symptoms of a hormonal imbalance may include PMS, weight gain, allergies, urinary tract infections, changes in the skin, anxiety, and fatigue. By keeping your hormones in balance, you will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, you will keep a regular menstrual cycle, and you will find yourself feeling more energetic.

6. Helps PMS Symptoms

Taking a vitamin E supplement 2-3 days before and 2-3 days after a menstrual period can reduce the cramping, anxiety, and cravings that are related to PMS. Vitamin E can decrease pain severity and duration, and it can reduce menstrual blood loss. It does this by balancing your hormones naturally and it helps to keep your menstrual cycle regulated. 

eye health

7. Improves Vision

Vitamin E may help decrease the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is a common cause of blindness. Keep in mind, in order for vitamin E to be effective for vision, it must also be consumed with adequate intakes of vitamin C, beta carotene, and zinc. It has also been found that taking high doses of vitamin E and vitamin A daily seems to improve healing and vision in people undergoing laser eye surgery.

8. Helps People with Alzheimer’s Disease

Vitamin E may slow down the worsening of memory loss and functional decline in people with moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease. It may also delay the loss of independence and the need for a caregiver or assistance. Vitamin E, taken with Vitamin C, can also decrease the risk of developing several forms of dementia (7).

9. Improves Effects of Medical Treatments

Vitamin E is sometimes used to lessen the harmful effects of medical treatments such as radiation and dialysis. This is because it is a powerful antioxidant that fights off free radicals in the body. It is also used to reduce unwanted side effects of drugs that may cause hair loss of lung damage.

builds muscle

10. Improves Physical Endurance and Muscle Strength

Vitamin E can be used to improve your physical endurance. It can increase your energy and reduce the level of oxidative stress on your muscles after you exercise (8). Vitamin E can also improve your muscle strength. Vitamin E eliminates fatigue by promoting blood circulation; it can also strengthen your capillary walls and nourish your cells.

Vitamin E Sources

According to the USDA, the RDA for vitamin E is 15 mg/day (22.5 IU). I recommend consuming 2-3 of these vitamin E rich foods daily:
1. Sunflower seeds
1 cup: 33.41 mg (220%)
2. Almonds
1 cup: 32.98 mg (218%)
3. Hazelnuts
1 cup: 20.29 mg (133%)
4. Wheat Germ
1 cup plain, uncooked: 18 mg (120%)
5. Mango
1 whole raw: 3.02 mg (20%)
6. Avocado
One whole raw: 2.68 mg (18%)
7. Butternut Squash
1 cup cooked and cubed squash: 2.64 mg (17%)
8. Broccoli
1 cup cooked: 2.4 (12%)
9. Spinach
½ cup cooked or about 2 cups uncooked: 1.9 mg (10%)
10. Kiwi
1 medium: 1.1 mg (6%)
11. Tomato
1 raw: 0.7 (4%)
If you are looking to increase the amount of vitamin E that you are consuming in a day, get creative using these foods! Add nuts or seeds to your cereal, oatmeal, or salad. You can also snack on nuts or make your own granola. Add a boost of vitamin E to your lunch or dinner by having a spinach or kale salad; add in tomatoes, shrimp, tofu, or even fresh fruit like papaya. If you are looking to have a healthy, vitamin E heavy snack, try a sliced apple with peanut butter, or smashed avocado on toast. An easy way to get some vitamin E in your diet is to add just a tablespoon of wheat germ oil to any recipe. It can be fun to mix up these food options and experiment with healthy- vitamin rich meals.

Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin E

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) includes the vitamin E that you get from both the food that you eat and any supplements you take. The daily intake is measured in milligrams (mg) and international units (IU).
Children:Vitamin E capsules
  • 1 – 3 years:  6 mg/day (9 IU)
  • 4 – 8 years: 7 mg/day (10.4 IU)
  • 9 – 13 years: 11 mg/day (16.4 IU)
  • 14 years and up: 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)
  • Pregnant: 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)
  • Breastfeeding: 19 mg/day (28.5 IU)
  • 14 years and up: 15 mg/day (22.4 IU)
The tolerable upper intake levels are the highest amount of a vitamin that most people can take safely ( These high doses can be used to treat a vitamin E deficiency, and it is important to speak to a doctor before taking more than these upper intake levels.
  • 1 – 3 years: 200 mg/day (300 IU)
  • 4 – 8 years: 300 mg/day (450 IU)
  • 9 – 13 years: 600 mg/day (900 IU)
  • 14 – 18 years: 800 mg/day (1,200 IU)
  • 18 years and up: 1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU)
Keep in mind that because vitamin E is fat-soluble, supplements work best when they are absorbed with food, and the American Heart Association recommends obtaining antioxidants, including vitamin E, by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that is high in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Getting your vitamins from the food you eat is always a better alternative than using a supplement because it is difficult to over-consume vitamin E when getting it from your regular diet.
Keep in mind that because vitamin E is fat-soluble, supplements work best when they are absorbed with food, and the American Heart Association recommends obtaining antioxidants, including vitamin E, by eating a healthy and well-balanced diet that is high in fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Getting your vitamins from the food you eat is always a better alternative than using a supplement because it is difficult to over-consume vitamin E when getting it from your regular diet.

Vitamin E Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin E deficiencies are rare and it is almost never caused by a poor diet. There are specific situations that may lead to a vitamin E deficiency.  A premature infant who is born weighing less than 3.5 pounds is in danger of a vitamin E deficiency. but a pediatrician who specializes in the care of newborns will typically evaluate the nutritional needs of an infant. People with fat absorption problems, which is a common problem for those who struggle with inflammatory bowel disease, may struggle with a deficiency.
People who have an issue with their dietary fat levels are also at risk because this is needed for the absorption of vitamin E. This includes anyone who has been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, has had a gastric bypass, or people with malabsorption problems such as Crohn’s disease, liver disease, or pancreatic insufficiency.  Deficiency symptoms include loss of muscle coordination, and impaired vision and speech.

Vitamin E Side Effects

Vitamin E benefits most healthy people when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Most people will not experience any side effects when taking the recommended dose. Vitamin E may be unsafe when taken in high doses, especially for people who have conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. If you suffer from these health issues, do not take doses of 400 IU/day or more.
Some studies show that taking high doses of vitamin E, which is between 300-800 IU each day, might increase the chance of having a serious stroke called hemorrhagic stroke by 22%. One serious side effect of too much vitamin E is an increased risk of bleeding, especially in the brain.
Avoid taking supplements containing vitamin E or any other antioxidant vitamins immediately before and following angioplasty, a heart procedure. These vitamins seem to interfere with proper healing, so speak to your health care professional if you are undergoing this kind of procedure.
Supplementing with very levels of Vitamin E could potentially lead to the following health concerns:
  • heart failure in people with diabetes
  • worsening bleeding disorders
  • increasing the chances that head, neck, and prostate cancer will return
  • increasing bleeding during and after surgery
  • increasing chance of death after a heart attack or stroke
One study found that vitamin E supplements can be harmful to women who are in the early stages of pregnancy. Women that took vitamin E supplements during their first 8 weeks of pregnancy showed an increase of congenital heart defects. (2)
High doses of vitamin E can also lead to nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fatigue, weakness, headache, blurred vision, rash, bruising, and bleeding. Topical vitamin E can irritate some people’s skin, so try a small amount first and make sure you don’t have a sensitivity.

Relationship with Other Nutrients and Interactions

Vitamin E supplements can slow down blood clotting, and when you are using medications that also slow clotting, you may increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel, ibuprofen, and warfarin. Warfarin (Coumadin), in particular, is used to slow blood clotting. Taking vitamin E with warfarin can increase your chances of bruising and bleeding, so be sure to have your blood checked regularly in order to regulate your dosing.
Medications that are used for lowing cholesterol may also interact with vitamin E. It is not known if taking vitamin E alone decreases the effectiveness of some medications that are used for lowing cholesterol, but it does seem to affect your cholesterol when taken with beta-carotene, vitamin C, and selenium.