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Vitamin E in pregnancy

Vitamin E Natural balance

SUMMARY

Vitamin E helps to give cells their structure. And with your baby growing and developing at a rapid rate, it is an important nutrient to include in your pregnancy diet. While a safe level supports your baby, too much can be harmful. Learn how much you need and why food sources are the best way to get your recommended daily amount.

What is vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in many foods, with olive oil and other plant-based oils being particularly good sources1.

One of its main functions is protecting cell membranes, which helps to maintain the structure of cells throughout the body1. With your baby’s cells multiplying at an astounding rate, vitamin E is an important nutrient to include in your pregnancy diet. It is thought that vitamin E plays an important role in the development of your baby’s lungs2.

3mg

Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) of vitamin E each day

1.4mg=

raw broccoli

broccoli

1.91mg=

one handful of walnuts

wallnuts

A healthy amount of vitamin E: Pregnancy and beyond

Although necessary for your own health and your baby’s growth, it’s important to consume vitamin E in safe doses – not too much and not too little. Getting your vitamin E from food sources is preferable to taking high-dose supplements.

A healthy intake of vitamin E contributes to the structure of cells throughout the body.”

It has been observed that an adequate intake of vitamin E in pregnancy might help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. It has also been linked to a reduced likelihood of developing asthma and respiratory issues later in life3.

 Olive oil is a great source of Vitamin E which helps protect the structure of cells throughout the body.

How much vitamin E is safe?

The recommended intake of vitamin E is 3mg per day. This amount should be achievable by eating a well-balanced diet1.

To avoid getting too much, make sure any supplements you take are pregnancy-safe4. Don’t worry about getting too much vitamin E from food – it is difficult to get it in high doses from diet alone.

Check that any supplements you're taking are pregnancy-safe to avoid getting too much vitamin E.

Olive oil, corn oil and other vegetable oils contain beneficial levels of vitamin E. Other good sources include5,6:

Next Steps

Check your supplements to make sure they’re pregnancy-safe without high doses of vitamin E.

Add the following sources of vitamin E to your pregnancy shopping list:

  • Olive oil
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Broccoli
  • Eggs

View references

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1. NHS UK. Vitamin E [Online]. 2012. Available at: www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vitamins-minerals/Pages/Vitamin-E.aspx [Accessed June 2014]

2. Turner SW et al. Associations between fetal size, maternal α-tocopherol and childhood asthma. Thorax 2010;65(5):391-397.

3. Devereux G et al. Low maternal vitamin E intake during pregnancy is associated with asthma in 5-year-old children. Am J Resp Crit Care Med 2006;174(5):499-507.

4. British Nutrition Foundation. Vitamin E [Online]. 2009. Available at: www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients/vitamins?start=4 [Accessed June 2014]

5. McCance and Widdowson. Composite of foods intergrated dataset [Online]. 2002. Available at: http://tna.europarchive.org/20110116113217/http://www.food.gov.uk/science/dietarysurveys/ [Accessed June 2014]

6. Department of Health. Nutrient analysis of fruit and vegetables [Online]. 2013. Available at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/167942/Nutrient_analysis_of_fruit_and_vegetables_-_Summary_Report.pdf [Accessed June 2014]

Last reviewed: 18th August 2014
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