Eating nuts, kale and avocado could help protect women from suffering a miscarriage, new research suggests. Being deficient in vitamin E starves an embryo of vital energy and nutrients it needs to grow, scientists have found.
This can cause severe neurological damage ultimately leading to the loss of a pregnancy. Experts now claim women planning to become pregnant should consume foods high in the mineral or take supplements.
Researchers from Oregon State University conducted their study on zebrafish embryos, which have a similar neurological development to humans. They found that a severe deficiency caused the depletion of essential fatty acids, specifically the omega-3 DHA. When the growing embryo is diminished of these, cells start to use glucose to prevent and reduce damage in the womb.
However, this prevents glucose from being used for its main purpose, providing humans with energy. This then prevents many physical and neurological features especially the brain from forming correctly.
Ultimately, this can lead to the loss of a pregnancy, the researchers warned in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.
They discovered that in zebrafish, a severe vitamin E deficiency is responsible for 80 per cent of miscarriages. Restoring glucose levels by eating foods rich in the essential mineral can repair some of the damage, they noted. Study author Professor Maret Traber said: 'Vitamin E has many biologic roles, only one of which is to serve as an antioxidant.
'In the growing embryo, vitamin E plays a major role in protecting essential fats such as DHA. 'Loss and oxidation of these fats can begin a chain reaction that involves glucose, depletes the cell of other antioxidants such as vitamin C, robs the cell of energy, and ultimately has a lethal outcome.'
Despite also being found in sweet potatoes, avocados and sunflower seeds, US researchers previously noted that 96 per cent of women consume inadequate amounts of the vitamin. And given these statistics, experts warn women should take supplements to ensure they have sufficient amounts if they desire children.