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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity
Volume 2011, Article ID 841749, 12 pages
Review Article

The Importance of Antioxidant Micronutrients in Pregnancy

1Division of Women's Health, Maternal and Fetal Research Unit, King's College London, St. Thomas' Hospital, London SE1 7EH, UK
2Human Genetics, School of Molecular and Medical Sciences, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH, UK

Received 30 March 2011; Accepted 6 June 2011

Academic Editor: Cinzia Signorini

Copyright © 2011 Hiten D. Mistry and Paula J. Williams. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Pregnancy places increased demands on the mother to provide adequate nutrition to the growing conceptus. A number of micronutrients function as essential cofactors for or themselves acting as antioxidants. Oxidative stress is generated during normal placental development; however, when supply of antioxidant micronutrients is limited, exaggerated oxidative stress within both the placenta and maternal circulation occurs, resulting in adverse pregnancy outcomes. The present paper summarises the current understanding of selected micronutrient antioxidants selenium, copper, zinc, manganese, and vitamins C and E in pregnancy. To summarise antioxidant activity of selenium is via its incorporation into the glutathione peroxidase enzymes, levels of which have been shown to be reduced in miscarriage and preeclampsia. Copper, zinc, and manganese are all essential cofactors for superoxide dismutases, which has reduced activity in pathological pregnancy. Larger intervention trials are required to reinforce or refute a beneficial role of micronutrient supplementation in disorders of pregnancies.