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    Too Much Of Vitamin E Dangerous During Pregnancy

    By Margarita Nahapetyan

    High levels of vitamin E at an early stage of pregnancy pose greater risk for developing heart defect in infants, according to Dutch scientists.

    In a new study, the researchers from Rotterdam examined 600 mothers - 276 women whose babies were born with heart defects, and 324 mothers of healthy children. When the babies became 16 months old, all the women were asked to fill in food frequency questionnaires. The questionnaires needed to be completed 4 weeks prior to the study. The experts noted that dietary habits for this time were similar to those before the women got pregnant.

    The information provided by the participants gave the researchers the opportunity to analyze and compare all the data, after what they revealed that mothers who consumed vitamin E in highest amounts from food alone, had 70 per cent greater risk of delivering a baby with a heart defect, compared to women who took the vitamin in moderate amounts.

    In addition, combination of high dietary vitamin E intake with the use of a supplement that contained the vitamin, increased the chances of developing congenital heart defects from nearly 5 times to as much as 9 times, Dr. R. P. M. Steegers-Theunissen at the University Medical Center, Rotterdam, and colleagues wrote in the journal.

    Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that also acts as a powerful biological antioxidant, which protects human tissues from the damage of free radicals. By damaging and destroying cells, free radicals contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Many studies are being conducted in order to figure out whether vitamin E, through its ability to limit the production of free radicals, might help to prevent or at least delay the development of these chronic diseases. Vitamin E has also been shown to play a role in the function of the immune system, in the repair of DNA, and other metabolic processes.

    Vitamin E in supplements is usually sold as alpha-tocopheryl acetate, a form of alpha-tocopherol that protects its ability to function as an antioxidant. The vitamin is believed to play an important role with factors such as aging, and it also plays a critical role in the formation of red blood cells, and assists the body in an appropriate utilization of vitamin K.

    The scientists explained that excessive intake of vitamin E during pregnancy may cause the imbalance in the state of oxidants and antioxidants, or may even modify the development of embryonic tissues, therefore leading to the birth defects.

    A diet that is well balanced is known to be the best way in attaining and absorption of vitamin E. Naturally, it can be found in foods like wheat germ, corn, fortified cereals, seeds and nuts, olives, and leafy green vegetables like spinach and asparagus. In addition, Vegetable oils including sunflower, soybean, cottonseed and corn oil are also common food sources of vitamin E.

    The findings of the study are published in the latest issue of BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

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