Boosting fertility with vitamin E

Discovered in 1922 during experiments on rats, this powerful antioxidant contains tocopherols, a Greek word meaning to bear children. Scientists discovered that rats without vitamin E in their diet became infertile. In a preliminary human trial, infertile couples given vitamin E (200 IU per day for the female and 100 IU per day for the male) showed a significant increase in fertility.  Vitamin E’s beneficial role in female reproductive health has since been backed up by more recent research and it has even been suggested that it may reduce age related ovarian decline (where the numbers of eggs are less because the woman is older).

For men, like other antioxidants, vitamin E combats free radicals. High levels of free radicals can lower sperm count, so it is important to ensure adequate intake of antioxidants, especially vitamin E. Research suggests that the antioxidant activity of vitamin E may make sperm more fertile. An interesting study looked at men with good sperm counts but low fertilisation rates during IVF treatments. These men were given vitamin E each day. One month after starting treatment the fertility rate increased from 19 percent to 29 percent.


If you have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility I recommend that you and your partner take vitamin E supplements. If you have had a miscarriage you should also both take a vitamin E supplement because it can help prevent abnormal clotting. Studies have shown that giving vitamin E to both partners can result in significant increases in fertility.


Symptoms of vitamin E deficiency include irritability and anaemia. You and your partner should take 200-300 ius of natural rather than synthetic vitamin E a day. Normally natural and synthetic vitamins are of equal value but vitamin E is different because the natural and synthetic forms are structurally different. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the effect of giving both natural and synthetic vitamin E and found that the absorption rate of natural vitamin E was more efficient than the synthetic. The natural version of vitamin E is called d-alpha-tocopherol and the synthetic is called dl-alpha- tocopherol.  (The Fertility Plus for Women and Fertility Plus for Men supplements I use in the clinic both contain 240ius of natural vitamin E – see the Resources Page).

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