A study published by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has suggested revealed that pregnant women with low levels of the most common form of vitamin E are twice as likely to have miscarriages that those with adequate levels of the vitamin in their blood.Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, slowing down the process that damages cell and is found in a variety of foods.
The researchers recommend improving the diet of women in impoverished nations or encouraging supplementation of vitamin E could prevent miscarriages, improving fertility.
“For nearly a century, we have known about vitamin E and its role in the fertility of animals,” said one of the study’s leaders, Kerry Schulze, PhD, an associate scientist in the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “To our knowledge, this is the first study in humans that has looked at the association of vitamin E and miscarriage. The findings from this study support a role for vitamin E in protecting the embryo and fetus in pregnancy.”
The research participants consisted of 1,605 rural Bangladeshi pregnant women in the JiVitA-1 study that ran from 2001 to 2007.Blood samples were taken upon enrollment in the first trimester and any miscarriages were recorded on a weekly basis thereafter. Of the 1,605 women in the study, 141 (8.8 percent) subsequently miscarried. The study examined two forms of vitamin E — alpha-tocopherol (the most active form of the vitamin in the body) and gamma-tocopherol. Nearly three out of four women in the study had what was considered vitamin E deficiency, with low alpha-tocopherol levels. When looking at alpha-tocopherol, 5.2 percent of women with adequate levels in their blood miscarried in the first or second trimester as compared with 10.2 percent of women who miscarried with low levels.
“The new findings suggest that having pregnant women consume an adequate amount of vitamin E early in pregnancy could be beneficial,” saie Abu Ahmed Shamim, MS, an associate in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School and the lead Bangladeshi author.
“Vitamin deficiencies are considered a form of hidden hunger because they are not readily apparent but they can have huge health consequences,” Schulze said. “What we really want to do is optimize health before women become pregnant, because if they don’t start with a good vitamin E status, they are at a high risk of negative outcomes.”
“First trimester plasma tocopherols are associated with risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh” was written by Abu Ahmed Shamim, Kerry Schulze, Rebecca D. Merrill, Alamgir Kabir, Parul Christian, Saijuddin Shaikh, Lee Wu, Hasmot Ali, Alain B. Labrique, Sucheta Mehra, Rolf D.W. Klemm, Mahbubur Rashid, Pongtorn Sungpuag, Emorn Udomkesmalee and Keith P. West Jr.
A. A. Shamim, K. Schulze, R. D. Merrill, A. Kabir, P. Christian, S. Shaikh, L. Wu, H. Ali, A. B. Labrique, S. Mehra, R. D. Klemm, M. Rashid, P. Sungpuag, E. Udomkesmalee, K. P. West. First trimester plasma tocopherols are associated with risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014; DOI: 10.3945/ajcn.114.094920