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Pregnancy

      Vitamin E in pregnancy

      Read time: 3 minutes

      Vitamin E helps your body create and maintain red blood cells, healthy skin and eyes, and strengthens your natural immune system1. It’s best to include a healthy dose of vitamin  E in your pregnancy diet by eating the right foods, rather than taking supplements.

      Learn more about the importance of vitamin E in pregnancy, how much you need and why foods sources are the best way to get your recommended daily amount.

      Why is vitamin E so important during pregnancy?

      Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in many foods, such as olive oil and brocolli1. With its antioxidant properties, one of vitamin E's main functions is protecting cell membranes from damage2 – a healthy intake of vitamin E contributes to the structure of cells throughout your body.

      Vitamin E also contributes to healthy skin and eyes, in addition to strengthening your immune system1.

      Scientific studies have shown that an adequate intake of vitamin E during pregnancy reduces the likelihood of your baby developing asthma and respiratory issues later in life3,4.

      How much vitamin E do you need when you’re pregnant?

      Although it’s a necessary nutrient for your own health and your baby’s growth, it’s important to stick to a healthy intake of vitamin E during your pregnancy – that means not too much and not too little2.

      Your recommended daily intake of vitamin E during pregnancy is 3mg, which should be easily achievable by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet1.

      80g raw broccoli contains 1.4mg vitamin E

      One handful of walnuts contains 1.9mg vitamin E


      Some supplements, such as multi vitamins, can contain high doses of Vitamin E, so to avoid getting too much, make sure any supplements you take are pregnancy-safe and contain no more than 3mg of vitamin per daily dose.

      Don't worry about getting too much vitamin E from food – it’s difficult to get vitamin E in high doses from your diet alone.

      It’s also worth remembering that because vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, your body can build up stores of it in your liver, ready for when you need it.

      Which foods contain vitamin E?

      Olive oil and other plant-based oils like sunflower oil and rapeseed oil are particularly rich in vitamin E1. But there are plenty of other foods that are good sources.

      Food (100g) Nutrient quantity (mg)
      Sunflower oil 41
      Sunflower seeds 37
      Rapeseed oil 29
      Hazelnuts 24.95
      Almonds 23.98
      Broccoli (best raw)
      7.72
      Pistachio nuts 4.16
      Tinned tomatoes 1.36
      Egg (boiled) 1.11
      Red peppers
      0.95
      Blueberries
      0.94
      Cherry tomatoes (raw) 0.89

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      Try increasing your intake with these vitamin E-rich snacks and meals:

      1. NHS. Vitamin E [Online]. 2017. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-e/ [Accessed March 2020].
      2. British Nutrition Foundation. Vitamin E [Online]. 2016. Available at: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients-food-and-ingredients/vitamins.html?limit=1&start=4 [Accessed March 2020].
      3. Turner SW et al. Associations between fetal size, maternal α-tocopherol and childhood asthma. Thorax 2010;65(5):391-7.
      4. 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.
      5. Department of Health. Dietary Reference Values for Food energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom. London: TSO, 1991.
      6. GOV.UK. Composition of foods integrated dataset (CoFID) [Online]. 2015. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/composition-of-foods-integrated-dataset-cofid [Accessed March 2020]. 

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