Vitamin E for Premenstrual Syndrome

Three randomized clinical trials revealed that vitamin E supplements improved PMS-related mood swings, anxiety, headache, food cravings and insomnia.9 In one study,

women with PMS were given 150 international units (IU), 300 IU or 600 IU of vitamin E. All doses were more effective at relieving symptoms than the placebo pill.

How vitamin E may work to help your PMS is not understood. However, the vitamin is famous for its role as an antioxidant, a substance that can combat harmful free radicals in the body. Free radicals damage cells and are believed to play a role in the development of heart disease, certain cancers, cataracts and Alzheimer’s disease. There is a large body of evidence to suggest that taking a vitamin E supplement each day can lower the risk of heart disease. So if you’re not taking vitamin E now, you might want to add it to your daily nutrition regime. It just might help your PMS and protect your heart!

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Vitamin E Supplements

It’s impossible to get close to the 150 IU of vitamin E from foods in your daily diet. The richest sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and wheat germ. Leafy green vegetables, especially kale, are also good sources. But if you consider that 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil provides only 2.6 IU of the vitamin—and even 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of toasted wheat germ gives you a mere 4 IU—you can see why you must rely on a supplement to get 150 to 600 IU.

To help you choose the right vitamin E supplement, consider the following:

• Start taking 200 to 400 IU per day.

• Buy a “natural source” vitamin E supplement (look for d-alpha-tocopherol on the label; synthetic forms are labeled dl-alpha tocopherol). Although the body absorbs both synthetic and natural forms equally well, your liver prefers the natural form, as it incorporates more natural vitamin E into transport molecules.

• If you’re on blood-thinning medication like Coumadin® (warfarin), don’t take vitamin E, since it also has slight anti-clotting properties. Talk to your doctor before adding any supplement to your regime.

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