DSM supports new research linking adequate vitamin E intake to reduced risk of miscarriage in humans


The study involved more than 1,500 women living in rural Bangladesh

A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found that vitamin E status in early pregnancy may influence the risk of miscarriage in women living in rural Bangladesh.

This region has a typically undernourished population and alpha-tocopherol and gamma-tocopherol plasma status was measured in 1,605 women.

According to the Institute of Medicine (IOM), alpha-tocopherol accounts for vitamin E activity.

In the study, 1,161 of the women (72.3%) had low-to-deficient vitamin E status defined by a plasma αlpha-tocopherol concentration of <12.0 μmol/L.

The most important finding was that women with low alpha-tocopherol concentrations were almost twice as likely to miscarry than women with normal status. Women with low gamma-tocopherol status were also significantly more likely to miscarry than those with higher concentrations.

Vitamin E deficiency, widely thought not to exist, does – very much so in rural South Asia – and may place mothers at risk of miscarriage

Vitamin E status is rarely assessed in pregnant women in undernourished populations. The cutoff of plasma α-tocopherol concentration 12.0 μmol/L was proposed to define vitamin E deficiency in normal, healthy adults. However, to date, there is no consensus on the definition of vitamin E deficiency in pregnant women because αlpha-tocopherol concentrations increase with blood lipids over the course of pregnancy.

Dr Keith West, lead scientist from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and one of the authors of the new research paper, said: 'Micronutrient deficiencies are a public health concern as diets undergo change across diverse cultures.

'Vitamin E deficiency, widely thought not to exist, does – very much so in rural South Asia – and may place mothers at risk of miscarriage. This finding resonates with observed placental failure noted in deficient animals by Evans and Bishop in 1922, which led to the vitamin being named ‘tocopherol’. The term was drawn from the Greek language meaning ‘to bear offspring’.'

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The findings show an association between adequate αlpha-tocopherol status and reduced risk of miscarriage in human populations, inviting future study of potential beneficial effects of achieving adequate vitamin E status during pregnancy.