If you are pregnant, having a vitamin enriched diet and supplements may reduce your risk of miscarriage and pre-term delivery.
A study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that women who had low vitamin C rates had twice the risk of pre-term delivery due to premature rupture of the membranes (amniotic sac), compared with those who had higher rates of the vitamin.
They also found that women with higher rates of the vitamin had reduced rates of miscarriage and infections in pregnancy. (1)
Doctors at Ewha Womans University Hospital, South Korea, followed patients at their ante-natal appointments and after the births of their babies and found that women who had higher concentrations of vitamin C in their blood also had babies with higher birth weights. The "vitamin C babies" were taller.
They also looked at vitamin E and found that the heaviest babies were born to mothers in the upper vitamins group, implying that a good diet could reduce your risk of miscarriage and help your baby grow to a healthy size. (2)
An earlier study in India found the same thing. Women who were supplemented with multivitamins during pregnancy had longer gestations and bigger babies and low birth rates were reduced by 6 percent. (3)
Vitamin C is available from these foods:
• Green beans
These are just a few examples of food sources that contain vitamin C and pregnant women should aim to have a wide variety of these in their diet. (4) Vitamin C is also available in the form of a supplement.
Vitamin E is available from green leafy vegetables, some fruits (mango and kiwi as examples), nuts, seeds and fortified breakfast cereals. (5)
Why do Vitamins C and E Benefit Mom and Baby?
Doctors suggest that vitamin C and E may benefit pregnant moms and their babies because they are antioxidants and they reduce oxidative stress and may protect the baby from free radical damage. This protective effect could also encourage fetal growth and minimize the risk of miscarriage. (2)
1. Vitamin C intake and the risk of preterm delivery, Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2003 Aug;189(2):519-25.
2. Influence of maternal serum levels of vitamins C and E during the second trimester on birth weight and length, European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2004) 58, 1365–1371. http://www.nature.com/ejcn/journal/v58/n10/full/1601976a.html
3. Impact of the Integrated Child Development Services (icds) on Maternal Nutrition and Birth Weight in Rural Varanasi, Indian Pediatrics 2000;37: 1321-1327. http://www.indianpediatrics.net/dec2000/dec-1321-1327.htm
4. Midwifery Today, Issue 72, Winter 2004. Prematurity Is Preventable!—Amy V. Haas, BA, BCCE. http://www.midwiferytoday.com/magazine/issue72.asp
5. Vitamin E, Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. Web. 9 November 2011. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VITAMINE
Joanna is a freelance health writer for The Mother magazine and Suite 101 with a column on infertility, http://infertility.suite101.com/. She is author of the book, 'Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation,' and co-author of an educational resource on disabled parenting.
She is a mother of five who practised drug-free home birth, delayed cord clamping, full term breast feeding, co-sleeping, home schooling and flexi schooling and is an advocate of raising children on organic food.
Reviewed November 10, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith