Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential in many physiological processes. In women, vitamin E plays an important role in the health and maintenance of proper reproductive system function. Deficiencies in vitamin E are common and can adversely affect reproductive system function. Conversely, because vitamin E is fat soluble, excess vitamin E intake may result in adverse side effects. Vitamin E is also essential during pregnancy and is needed for the proper health and development of the fetus.
Function of Vitamin E
Vitamin E helps your body produce chemicals called prostaglandins, which, in turn, reduce the production of a hormone called prolactin. Prolactin, or luteotropic hormone, increases during ovulation and may contribute to the physical and emotional symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. Maintaining balanced prolactin levels is important for the female reproductive system, and it is considered to be a light gonadotropin, or sex hormone, promoting proper function of your reproductive system.
Vitamin E Deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency can be the result of a lack of vitamin E intake in your diet or your body's inability to properly absorb vitamin E. In either case, a vitamin E deficiency can negatively effect your body in many ways, including your reproductive system. A deficiency in vitamin E can cause anemia, or a low red blood cell count, which may effect your body's ability to produce sex hormones that promote reproductive system function.
Vitamin E Toxicity
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that if you consume too much, your body will store it instead of remove it through your urine like it would for water-soluble vitamins. Excess vitamin E can be toxic to your body and, as a result, have serious side effects, including damage to your reproductive system. High levels of vitamin E impair your blood clotting ability. In women, this can make your period last longer and may increase the risk of other nutrient deficiencies through excess blood loss.
Vitamin E During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, your body will demand higher levels of vitamin E due to an increase in blood volume. However, excess vitamin E during pregnancy can be harmful to the fetus, increasing the risk of congenital heart defects. Normal levels of vitamin E are important for the maintenance and health of tissues in your body and for the proper development of your fetus during pregnancy. The Mayo Clinic states that small amounts of vitamin E are recommended for pregnant women, but caution must be taken to avoid excess vitamin E.
- "The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs"; Nicola Reavley; 1999
- "Human Anatomy and Physiology"; Elaine N. Marieb; 2004
- Mayo Clinic; Vitamin E; 2011