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Providing perspectives on recent research into vitamins and nutritionals


Vitamin E Needs a 9-1-1 Call

By Michael McBurney

The FDA finalized new pregnancy and lactation labeling requirements on prescription drugs and biological products. The ruling involves a subsection, Females and Males of Reproductive Potential, that will encompass information about potential effects on fertility. I wish there was more emphasis on nutrition recommendations, especially vitamin E, with respect to fertility, full-term pregnancies and baby development.

Pregnancy requires fertilization of an egg by sperm. Low vitamin E concentrations in seminal plasma and spermatozoa are related to sperm quality. Among infertile men, supplemental vitamin E and selenium improves sperm motility and increases spontaneous pregnancy (see also Kobori et al, 2014).

In females, antioxidants protect uterine implantation, maturation, and embryogenesis. First trimester miscarriage is associated with increased markers of oxidative stress in blood. In a recent study, Shamim and colleagues reported low plasma α-tocopherol concentrations (< 12 µmol/L) were associated with increased risk of miscarriage in the first trimester.

With ~90% of Americans not consuming recommended intake, it is possible that low vitamin E status may affect fertility in couples trying to conceive.

Vitamin E should have been named as a ‘nutrient of concern’, along with dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin D, and potassium, in 2010 (pp 33). Even now, the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee knows that vitamin E is under-consumed yet they fail to study vitamin E (slides 9-11). Vitamin E really needs a 9-1-1 call.

Vitamin E needs emergency action because it is essential and deserving of more attention by scientists.


Moretti E, Castellini C, Mourvaki E, Capitani S, Geminiani M, Renien T, Collodel G. Distribution of α- and δ-tocopherols in seminal plasma and sperm fractions of men with normal and abnormal semen parameters. 2013 J Androl doi: 10.2164/jandrol.109.009936

Moslemi MK, Tavanbakhsh S. Selenium-vitamin E supplementation in infertile men: effects on semen parameters and pregnancy rate. 2011 Int J Gen Med doi: 10.2147/IJGM.S16275

Kobori Y, Ota S, Sato R, Yagi H, Soh S, Arai G, Okada H. Antioxidant cosupplementation therapy with vitamin C, vitamin E, and coenzyme Q10 in patients with oligoasthenozoospermia. 2014. Arch Ital Urol Androl doi: 10.4081/aiua.2014.1.1

Aziz N. Recurrent pregnancy loss and oxidative stress. 2013 In: Studies on Women’s Health. doi: 10.1007/978-1-62703-041-0_7

Shamim AA, Schulze K, Merrill RD, Kabir A, Christian P, Shaikh S, Wu L, Ali H, Labrique AB, Mehra S, Klemm RDW, Rashid M, Sungpuag P, Udomkesmalee E, West Jr KP. First trimester plasma tocopherols are associated with risk of miscarriage in rural Bangladesh. 2014 Am J Clin Nutr doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.094920

Parker E, Goldman J, Moshfegh A. America’s nutrition report card: Comparing WWEIA, NHANES 2007-2010 usual nutrient intakes to dietary reference values (384.2). 2014 FASEB J 384.2