Low vitamin E blood levels during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage

September 8, 2015

A new study reports a low plasma vitamin E concentration in the first trimester of pregnancy may elevate the risk of early pregnancy loss.

The observational study measured the blood vitamin E concentrations of 1605 pregnant Bangladeshi women at an average of 10 weeks of gestational age and documented cases of miscarriage (1). The study results showed that women with low alpha-tocopherol (below 12.0 micromol/L) and gamma-tocopherol (below 0.81 micromol/L) levels had a significantly increased risk of miscarriage.

The researchers commented that vitamin E (tocopherols) seems to play a significant role in oxidative defense, including mechanisms that protect the maternoplacental fetal unit. Oxidative stress can arise through the enhanced production of reactive oxygen species or a deficiency of antioxidant defenses resulting from inadequate dietary antioxidant intake, decreased synthesis of antioxidant enzymes, or increased antioxidant use (2). Increased oxidative stress and resulting lipid peroxidation have been linked to pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia (3) and early pregnancy loss (4). For example, elevated plasma lipid peroxide and lower vitamin E status were reported in patients with a recurrent abortion (5).


  1. Shamim A. A. et al. First trimester plasma tocopherols are associated with risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh. Am J Clin Nutr. Published online November 2014.
  2. Sinclair A. J. et al. Free radicals and antioxidant systems in health and disease. Br J Hosp Med. 1990; 43:334–344.
  3. Maseki M. et al. Lipid peroxide levels and lipids content of serum lipoprotein fractions of pregnant subjects with or without preeclampsia. Clin Chim Acta. 1981; 115:155–161.
  4. Burton G. J. and Jauniaux E. Placental oxidative stress: from miscarriage to preeclampsia. J Soc Gynecol Investig. 2004; 11:342–352.
  5. Simsxek M. et al. Blood plasma levels of lipoperoxides, glutathione peroxidase, beta-carotene, vitamin A and E in women with habitual abortion. Cell Biochem Funct. 1998; 16:227–231.