Maternal Vitamin E and Risk of Asthma

Maternal Vitamin E and Risk of AsthmaNew research shows there may be a correlation between maternal Vitamin E and risk of asthma. Specifically, a study conducted out of Vanderbilt University Medical Center found that babies born to mothers with low Vitamin E levels are more likely to have asthma and respiratory problems.

The study followed 650 babies from birth to two years of age. Their mothers were tested for two specific Vitamin E levels after giving birth. Those with lower levels of Vitamin E had children who were more likely to have been treated for asthma or wheezing within their first two years. These results were determined based on medical data and reports from their mothers.

Previous studies conducted on mice had the same results. Although this study did not test mothers during pregnancy, researchers believe that Vitamin E levels immediately after giving birth are reflective of the levels while babies were in the womb.

Vitamin E is a critical fat-soluble antioxidant that helps maintain cell structure. It is partially responsible for proper organ function and is essential in defending cells against free radicals. During pregnancy, the right amount of Vitamin E is crucial to support your baby’s rapidly growing cells and especially the development of your baby’s lungs. Additionally, Vitamin E during pregnancy can keep blood pressure levels in check to help avoid preeclampsia

There are eight types of Vitamin E. This study found that a-tocopherol and y-tocopherol were most important to reduce the risk of asthma and wheezing in young children. The best sources of alpha-tocopherol are sunflower oil and safflower oil. Y-tocopherol is more common and found in corn, soy, seeds, and nuts (walnuts, pecans and peanuts), as well as vegetable oils.

It is recommended that pregnant women consume 3 mg of Vitamin E daily for their own health and that of their developing babies. This can usually be achieved by eating a well-balanced diet without supplementation.  Too much Vitamin E can be harmful to growing fetuses.

The findings of this study were reported at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s annual meeting.

Sources: WebMD, MPR, Live Science and AptaClub