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Use Vitamin E for Exercise Endurance and Strength

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

You’ve been working out for awhile, hitting the high intensity exercise training hard, but instead of feeling stronger you feel weak and fatigued.

Discouraging, isn’t it?

Those gains you were after haven’t materialized. It's almost like exercise increases your weakness instead of your strength.

But don’t despair; it could be something as simple as a deficiency of vitamin E, which is critical for proper muscle function, especially when you exercise.

In this article, I’ll cover:

Let’s dive in.

an illustration of vitamin E supplements


The Beneficial Effects Of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is typically known for being an antioxidant, especially for the inner surface of your arteries. Antioxidants help counter the damage caused by what are called free radicals, which are unstable atoms that can damage your cells and cause illness.

In fact, having enough vitamin E on the inner layer of your arteries can prevent the accumulation of platelets, clotting factors, and other debris that could cause a blockage. It does this by preventing the oxidation of such elements as blood sugar and chemicals that can destroy the lining of your blood vessels.

As soon as oxidation damages your arterial walls, calcium and cholesterol are sent by your body to patch the damage. Thus, vitamin E deficiency is one of the first links on the oxidation chain of events.

But healthy arteries isn’t all that vitamin E can help with. It supports the retinas that line the back of your eyes, and alleviates complications from diabetes that can affect your retinas. These complications occur because when you have diabetes, you have a high amount of sugar flowing through your bloodstream.

As well, vitamin E will also support the peripheral nerves in your hands and feet that can become damaged as a complication of diabetes.

Vitamin E is a crucial vitamin for your health. And one of the most important things vitamin E can do is support the skeletal muscle membranes.

Here’s how.


How To Use Vitamin E For Exercise Endurance And Strength

When you exercise, you’re purposefully stressing your body. You’re tearing down muscle tissue and connective tissue. Then, your body repairs the tears, in a process dubbed “tear and repair”. You’re actually tearing down your muscle membranes at the microscopic level.

Vitamin E is essential for this repair action. If you don’t have enough of it, the tears won’t repair correctly. They may form scar tissue, and slow down your recovery. Similarly, when you’re deficient in vitamin E you can experience these three effects:

#1 Muscle weakness

If you’re taking electrolytes but still getting muscle cramps, this is a sign you need to take vitamin E as a dietary supplement. Please avoid the synthetic versions, and make sure you get a natural vitamin E complex that includes what are called the tocopherols and tocotrienols. Together, they form a powerful complex which makes vitamin E more effective. If you take just a fractionated part of the complex, you may not get the benefits you want.

#2 Muscle myopathies

Muscle myopathies are dysfunctions of your muscles. You can reduce muscle cramps, stiffness, and spasms with the right vitamin E supplementation.

#3 Reduced ability to contract muscles

Your ability to contract your muscles during exercise is directly tied to the strength of the muscles. I remember in my practice, patients would come in with weak muscles, and would fatigue quite quickly when they worked out. I always recommended that they supplement with a complete vitamin E complex, and it was amazing how much more endurance they had.

In other words, if you have a vitamin E deficiency, you’re going to experience muscle fatigue, poor exercise performance, and your muscle tissue will tear or break down but lack the ability to fully repair itself.

a photo of a man grabbing his cramping calf muscle

Vitamin E will reduce cramping, especially of the heart muscle, because it increases the amount of oxygen to your tissues and allows the muscle to properly contract and relax rather than cramping up.

How You Get Deficient In Vitamin E

In order to get the best absorption of vitamin E, your liver and gallbladder need to be functioning well. Thus, if you either don’t have a gallbladder or it’s not functioning correctly, or you have a fatty liver, you could be deficient in bile and therefore, in vitamin E. Because vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, not having enough bile could impair your absorption of this important vitamin.

But you’re not doomed if your body isn’t making enough bile; you can take it as a supplement in the form of bile salts.

Your absorption can also be impaired if you have a history of colon problems. Perhaps you’ve had surgery, or long-term antibiotic use, which has resulted in damage to your colon.

You can also develop a vitamin E deficiency if you aren’t consuming enough in your diet.

On a related note, if you’re also deficient in vitamin B1, you’ll develop a lot of lactic acid. This can lead to restless legs syndrome, among other conditions. You need both vitamins E and B1 to work together. Both of them are depleted when you’re on a high refined carbohydrate diet full of bread, pasta, cereal, and crackers, along with high fructose corn syrup.

Which begs the questions, how can you increase your vitamin E intake through your food choices?


How To Increase Your Intake Of Vitamin E With Dietary Choices

If your diet is high in refined carbohydrates and high fructose corn syrup, it’s time to make very different choices. Not only will this help your overall health, but you can easily increase your vitamin E intake and thus build up a healthy level of this important vitamin.

Instead of processed food, eat foods high in the vitamin E complex, such as:

  • Wheat germ

  • Leafy greens

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Almonds

As well as many other foods such as avocados, trout, shrimp, and broccoli.

If you exercise on a regular basis, and you want to improve your strength and endurance while decreasing your fatigue, you can follow the tips in this article to ensure you’re getting adequate amounts of vitamin E complex.

You’ll be glad you did - and you’ll enjoy the gains you’ve earned from working out.

a silhouette of a strong woman flexing her arms

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Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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