Vitamin E in pregnancy

Vitamin E is a vital nutrient for the human body. As well as helping to maintain healthy skin and eyes, it also supports your immune system to do it’s job of protecting you from infection and illness1.

But what about vitamin E in pregnancy? How can it support your body and your growing baby?

Here we’ll look at why vitamin E in pregnancy is so important, how it can impact pregnancy outcomes, and how you can make sure that you’re getting enough as part of your healthy pregnancy diet.

Why is vitamin E so important during pregnancy?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. As well as supporting the health of your skin and eyes, it has strong antioxidant properties, protecting your cell membranes from damage, and contributing to the structure the cells in your body. In addition, vitamin E is important for the maintenance of your vascular and nervous systems2.

Studies have shown that there are several potential benefits of vitamin E for pregnant women, such as its potential involvement in the growth of the baby and its lungs in early pregnancy3.

There’s also evidence to suggest that insufficient intake of vitamin E can result in pregnancy complications such as preterm birth and preeclampsia4, 5. However, further research around vitamin E and pregnancy outcomes is still needed.

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

According to the NHS, the recommended daily intake of vitamin E is 4mg a day for men, and 3mg a day for women (this stays the same during pregnancy)1. You’ll get all the vitamin E you need by eating a healthy balanced diet, and it’s unlikely that you’ll consume too much vitamin E from food alone.

This is because any vitamin E that your body doesn’t need straight away is stored, ready to use when it’s needed1.

Should I take vitamin E supplements in pregnancy? 

As long as you’re eating a healthy balanced diet containing a wide variety of foods, the World Health Organization states that there’s no need for you to take a vitamin E supplement unless you’ve been advised to do so by a healthcare professional6.

It’s important to know that some supplements, multi vitamins for example, can contain high doses of Vitamin E. To avoid getting too much, it’s important to make sure that any supplements you take are safe for pregnant women and contain no more than 3mg of vitamin E per daily dose.

It’s always advisable to speak to your doctor, midwife or other healthcare professional before taking any vitamins supplements when pregnant, and you can learn more about pregnancy vitamins and supplements during pregnancy here.

What are the signs of vitamin E deficiency? 

Vitamin E deficiency is more prevalent amongst those people with medical conditions that make it difficult to digest and absorb fat. Crohn's disease for example, and cystic fibrosis.

Whilst a deficiency is rare, there are often very clear signs when it does occur. Symptoms include7:

  • Nerve and muscle damage that causes a loss of feeling in the legs and arms - this is known as peripheral neuropathy
  • A loss of control over your body movements - also known as ataxia
  • Muscle weakness
  • A weakened immune system
  • Damage to the retina known as retinopathy which can result in damage being caused to your vision

For pregnant women, a vitamin E deficiency can lead to a number of poor pregnancy outcomes, including8:

  • Placental ageing - impairing it’s function as your baby develops in the womb
  • Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Miscarriage

Rest assured that vitamin E deficiency is very rare during pregnancy. However, if you’ve got any concerns at all about your vitamin and mineral intake during your pregnancy, always seek advice from your doctor or midwife.

Can too much vitamin E have negative effects on pregnant women?  

Just like a vitamin E deficiency, it’s also rare to consume too much. This is because it’s difficult to get high doses of vitamin E from our diet alone, and any excess would likely be the result of taking a vitamin E supplement. Whilst the NHS advises that taking too much vitamin E can be harmful to your health, it also states that taking up to 540mg per day is not likely to be problematic, and it’s not clear what the effects of high doses of vitamin E would be1.

For pregnant women, studies have shown that too much vitamin E can affect how your body absorbs other vitamins, and high quantities during the first trimester of pregnancy may be associated with decrease in birth weight9, while another study showed increased risk of congenital heart defects in babies4.  

How can you make sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamin E?

As with all vitamins and minerals, the aim during your pregnancy is to get just the right amount of the ones you need - not too much, and not too little. And when it comes to vitamin E, the best way to do this is to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Take a look below at some of the vitamin E rich foods that you can eat and enjoy during your pregnancy.

Which foods contain vitamin E?

Vitamin E is found in plenty of foods, making it easy to incorporate it into your everyday diet. Sources of vitamin E include1:

  • Seeds
  • Nuts
  • Wheatgerm which you can find in cereals
  • Plant based oils such as rapeseed, sunflower, soya, corn and olive oil
Food (100g)Nutrient quantity (mg)
Sunflower oil41
Sunflower seeds37
Rapeseed oil29
Broccoli (best raw)
Pistachio nuts4.16
Tinned tomatoes1.36
Egg (boiled)1.11
Red peppers
Cherry tomatoes (raw)0.89

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

If you’re looking for some inspiration around how to include more vitamin E based foods into your diet, then you’re in the right place. Below you’ll find some suggestions that you can enjoy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Why not try:

What are the rules around vitamin E creams?

Many pregnant women experience changes to their body both during and after their pregnancy, and you can read more about these changes here.

Stretch marks are very common in pregnancy and affect around 8 out of 10 pregnant women9. Whilst there’s no strong evidence to suggest that vitamin E creams will minimise the appearance of stretch marks, studies have shown that they can be safe for use in pregnancy when used as an emollient10, 11. However further studies are needed around the ingredients’ functionality and their safety in pregnant women. We do advise to always speak to your healthcare professional before use12.

Your baby's future health begins here

At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; and that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

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  1. NHS. Vitamins and minerals [online] 2020. Available at [Accessed November 2023]
  2. NHS South Tees Hospital. Vitamin E [online] 2022. Available at [Accessed November 2023] 
  3. Turner SW et al. Associations between fetal size, maternal α-tocopherol and childhood asthma. Thorax 2010;65(5):391-7
  4. Wang S, Shi M, Zhou L, Huang H, Mo S. Correlation of vitamin E level during pregnancy with maternal and neonatal health outcomes: a meta-analysis and systematic review. Am J Transl Res. 2023 Jun 15;15(6):3838-3845. PMID: 37434831; PMCID: PMC10331675
  5. Reference: Rumbold A, Ota E, Hori H, Miyazaki C, Crowther CA. Vitamin E supplementation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Sep 7;2015(9):CD004069. doi: 10.1002/
  6. WHO. Vitamin E supplementation in pregnancy [online] 2023. Available at [Accessed November 2023]
  7. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin E Fact Sheet for Health Professionals [online] 2021. Available at [Accessed November 2023]
  8. Chen H, Qian N, Yan L, Jiang H. Role of serum vitamin A and E in pregnancy. Exp Ther Med. 2018 Dec;16(6):5185-5189. doi: 10.3892/etm.2018.6830. Epub 2018 Oct 5. PMID: 30542475; PMCID: PMC6257734
  9. Boskovic R, Gargaun L, Oren D, Djulus J, Koren G. Pregnancy outcome following high doses of Vitamin E supplementation. Reprod Toxicol. 2005 May-Jun;20(1):85-8. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2005.01.003. PMID: 15808790
  10. Brennan M, Young G, Devane D. Topical preparations for preventing stretch marks in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Nov 14;11(11):CD000066. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD000066.pub2. PMID: 23152199; PMCID: PMC1000168
  11. Zhu P, Fung A, Woo BKP Consumer Preference of Products for the Prevention and Treatment of  Stretch Marks: Systematic Product Search JMIR Dermatol 2020;3(1):e18295 doi: 10.2196/18295 
  12. Putra IB, Jusuf NK, Dewi NK. Skin Changes and Safety Profile of Topical Products During Pregnancy. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2022 Feb;15(2):49-57. PMID: 35309882; PMCID: PMC8884185. 

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