Do vitamin E supplements have any effect on fertility?

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 11/16/2021

Vitamin E is called the "fertility vitamin" because it was found to be associated with reproductive function, although it has many other functions.

This vitamin is an antioxidant and therefore counteracts oxidative stress caused by free radicals generated in the body. From this arises the interest in studying the effect of the contribution of this vitamin through dietary supplements.

Despite the number of studies that have been conducted on vitamin E supplementation in reproduction, there are no conclusive results in humans

Vitamin E in pregnancy

Vitamin E (often in combination with vitamin C) has been extensively studied in relation to preeclampsia. This is a complication of pregnancy characterized, among other things, by an increase in the pregnant woman's blood pressure. Some authors recommend vitamin E and other antioxidants during pregnancy to prevent preeclampsia since oxidative stress would be involved in the development of this disorder.

A possible relationship between low vitamin E levels and low birth weight has also been observed.

On the other hand, it has been seen that in women with several abortions the levels of vitamin E, as well as vitamin A and beta carotene, were lower. From this study, it was concluded that these molecules could play an important role for these patients who have suffered several miscarriages.

Despite all this, it could be concluded that there are no clear results on the effects of vitamin E supplementation in pregnancy, as many other studies have found contradictory results. In addition, these studies lack follow-up of infants born to mothers who have received vitamin E supplementation, so potential adverse effects on offspring cannot be assessed.

Therefore, there is no evidence to support vitamin E supplementation (even in combination with other supplements) to improve certain complications of pregnancy.

Vitamin E and female fertility

As for female fertility, oxidative stress can also affect oocyte maturation. For this reason, it has been studied whether vitamin E has a protective effect due to its antioxidant properties.

It has been shown that an adequate level of vitamin E in the follicular fluid helps oocyte maturation. This could lead to better results in assisted reproductive techniques.

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In artificial insemination (AI) cycles, a study showed how ovarian stimulation with clomiphene citrate and vitamin E increased the thickness of the endometrium (the layer of the uterus where the embryo should implant) compared to women who had been stimulated with clomiphene citrate alone. However, the implantation and evolutionary pregnancy rates were similar in both cases.

In general, there is little evidence to support the use of antioxidant supplements in infertile women.

Vitamin E and male fertility

Because of its antioxidant role, vitamin E and C supplementation has been studied in patients with high sperm DNA fragmentation. Following this treatment, a reduction in the percentage of sperm with fragmented DNA has been seen. However, no improvement in basic semen parameters (sperm concentration, motility, and morphology) was observed.

Despite this, other studies have linked vitamin E, above all, to sperm motility.

On the other hand, in men with high sperm fragmentation, the same treatment (vitamin E and C) was studied in relation to assisted reproduction techniques. After treatment, reducing the percentage of sperm with damaged DNA could improve implantation and clinical pregnancy rates after ICSI.

However, again, variability in dosage and administration of vitamin E along with other compounds makes it difficult to obtain robust results on the effect of vitamin E supplementation on sperm quality and reproductive outcomes.

Sources of vitamin E

Vitamin E can be incorporated into our body through our diet. Some foods rich in vitamin E are:

  • Wheat germ.
  • Sunflower oil and seeds.
  • Nuts such as almonds.
  • Egg.
  • Corn.
  • Rice.
  • Avocado.
  • Butter.
  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach.

As for vitamin E supplements, before taking them, it is advisable to consult a specialist, especially in the case of pregnant women.

FAQs from users

Are vitamin E supplements necessary to improve fertility?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Vitamin E supplementation could improve fertility due to its antioxidant effect, as it would protect eggs and sperm from damage caused by oxidative stress. However, human studies do not provide conclusive results about the benefits of taking vitamin E supplements for male and female fertility.

Nevertheless, it is important to have adequate levels of vitamin E in the body. To do this, we must provide this vitamin through the diet with the intake of foods such as seeds and nuts, eggs and green leafy vegetables.

Why can vitamin E affect fertility?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Vitamin E is undoubtedly related to reproduction, as it was found to be an essential factor for reproduction in rats.

In addition, vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, so it can reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress in the body. This is why vitamin E supplementation could have a beneficial effect since oxidative stress can affect fertility by damaging eggs and sperm. However, there are no conclusive results in this regard.

Does vitamine E boost egg quality?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, specifically what vitamin E does is protect the eggs from suffering alterations. Vitamin E also prevents changes in a woman's menstrual cycle.

Foods rich in vitamin E that contribute to oocyte quality are avocado, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, olive oil and sunflower oil, spinach, etc.

If you want to learn more about foods that promote female fertility of What are the types, you can visit the following link: Which Type of Food is Beneficial for Female Fertility?

If, however, you are interested in knowing more about antioxidants and male fertility, we recommend reading the following article: What are Antioxidants and How Do They Affect Sperm Quality?

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FAQs from users: 'Are vitamin E supplements necessary to improve fertility?', 'Why can vitamin E affect fertility?' and 'Does vitamine E boost egg quality?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

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