We've all heard of the magic that vitamin E can work on our skin -- from fighting dryness to preventing wrinkles. But it doesn't stop there. Vitamin E, which is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant, combats toxins to rejuvenate not only your skin, but also your health. The nutrient is especially beneficial to expecting and new moms.
You can find vitamin E in olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, nuts, sunflower seeds, whole wheats and vegetables. The nutrient -- whether you eat it or take it as a supplement -- serves as an immune booster, regulates blood sugar, promotes good circulation and heart health, and even protect eye sight.
It goes without saying that women who are pregnant or who just had a baby have a lot to gain from a wholesome, nutritious diet. But vitamin E in particular can do wonders in staying healthy throughout pregnancy and beyond. It can even help recoup and heal from childbirth. Note that the recommended daily intake is 15 mg for pregnant women and 19 mg for nursing moms and that it's preferable to take vitamin E in its natural form (in foods and oils), especially during pregnancy or if you are nursing. Topical use is generally considered safe, but stick to the recommended daily intake and make sure to talk to your doctor.
In the meantime, we're giving you a little Vitamin E primer to get you excited. Here are 16 ways you can use the antioxidant during and after pregnancy.
1. Lather an oil that is rich in vitamin E, like coconut oil, on your belly and thighs. It will add moisture and elasticity to your skin and help you prevent or diminish stretch marks.
2. Add vitamin E to your skincare regimen to fight pregnancy-related acne and eczema. Alternatively, you can replace your current products with vitamin E oil or make your own mix of vitamin E oil and lavender essential oil to soothe any inflammation and redness associated with pregnancy-related skin breakouts.
3. Eating a salad for lunch? Opt for an olive oil-based dressing and add avocados to help improve muscle strength and eliminate fatigue. Vitamin E promotes blood circulation, which can give you more energy during the last few months of pregnancy.
4. Add sunflower seeds to your morning yogurt or eat a handful of almonds for your midday snack, as some experts argue that vitamin E may prevent preeclampsia.
5. Massage vitamin E oil on your face to treat the pregnancy mask, a skin discoloration that often occurs during pregnancy, when there's an estrogen surge that stimulates excess melanin production (hyper pigmentation). Since your skin regenerates overnight, it's best to apply it before bed and rinse in the morning.
6. Make almond butter for your morning toasts or sauté veggies like spinach in 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil for lunch to potentially keep gestational diabetes at bay. When taken in adequate amount, vitamin E oil has been shown to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
7. Though the best way to deal with dehydrated skin is to drink water, adding vitamin E oil to your skincare routine can help restore and rehydrate your skin throughout pregnancy.
8. If you are prone to dry skin, you'll even be more so when and if you breastfeed. So make sure to drink extra water and keep adding using vitamin E oil on your face after childbirth to lock moisture in.
9. If you are pregnant or nursing and want to avoid chemicals in your face cleanser, use a few drops of vitamin E oil on a cotton pad to wipe dirt and impurities off your face. It will clean your face, sans toxic ingredients, and will keep your skin's oil balance -- perfect for mamas who have dry skin.
10. If you gave birth via c-section, gently massage vitamin E oil on your scar to help it fade more quickly. The oil can strengthen the lining of your skin cells, repairing and healing damaged skin.
11. Do your perineal massages with coconut or vitamin E oil. Studies have shown that it can decrease the incidence of tearing during childbirth.
12. Tired of postpartum hair? Your scalp is dry, and your hair is thinning, breaking and falling. Vitamin E to the rescue. Massage your scalp and hair with a mixture of vitamin E oil an olive oil and leave it on for 30 minutes. Not only will it give the impression of healthier, more lustrous hair, it will hydrate your scalp and promote hair growth. That's right! Vitamin E conditions your hair and repairs damaged follicles, effectively promoting healthy hair growth.
13. Use almond meal instead of regular flour whenever you make baked goods. Vitamin E, which you can find in a variety of nuts, can help reduce pain and blood loss that many women experience for a few days after giving birth.
14. Eat all the leafy greens (especially spinach, since it's not as cruciferous as kale) and pass on dietary vitamin E to your little one. Vitamin E gets transferred through colostrum and mature milk and can boost baby's immune system.
15. After birth, you gotta do those Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, but gently massaging vitamin E oil onto the labia can be beneficial too. Mainly, it can moisturize and soothe an area that's been left dry and irritated after childbirth. If you had a tear, ask your doctor when you can start massaging the area. Finally, don't overdo it and only do it if you are experiencing pain due to dryness: too much vitamin E oil can foster bacteria imbalance and growth, especially for those who already are prone to yeast infections.
16. If you are past the 6-weeks mark and plan on having sex, vitamin E oil is a great natural lubricant.