Vitamin B12 Benefits During Pregnancy

Benefits of vitamin b12
Written by: Caroline Misiano;  LIU Post Dietetic Interns
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Nicole Palmer, DO
★ WHAT IS VITAMIN B12 GOOD FOR?
★ WHY IS VITAMIN B12 IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY? 
★ IS IT SAFE TO TAKE VITAMIN B12 WHILE PREGNANT?
★ HOW MUCH VITAMIN B12 DURING PREGNANCY?
★ CAN I TAKE VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING?
★ WHAT ARE THE SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY?
★ BEST VITAMIN B12-RICH FOODS DURING PREGNANCY
★ BEST PRENATAL VITAMINS WITH VITAMIN B12
 

As a pregnant mother or someone trying to conceive, you have probably read about the importance of certain vital nutrients during pregnancy, like folate or folic acid. But did you know that Vitamin B12 is just as essential for a healthy and safe pregnancy? In fact, adequate daily consumption of vitamin B12 can prevent certain birth defects and significantly impact the overall health and development of your baby. 

It is also important to mention that Folate and Vitamin B12 work together in the body. Together, they help with the formation of DNA for your baby as well as maintaining a healthy heart for your baby!

We will discuss the importance of Vitamin B12, the food sources of Vitamin B12, if you can take b12 while pregnant, how much you should have, and signs and symptoms of inadequate Vitamin B12 in the body. 

★ WHAT IS VITAMIN B12 GOOD FOR? 

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential, water-soluble vitamin needed for the body to function. “Water-soluble”  means that any extra Vitamin B12 in the body will not cause any harm to the body and will be excreted in the urine. This nutrient helps keep the body's blood and nerve cells healthy, and helps produce DNA, the genetic material in all of your cells. It is also known to help prevent megaloblastic anemia, a blood condition that makes people tired and weak. 

After eating foods with Vitamin B12, a special protein called an intrinsic factor, picks up Vitamin B12 in the stomach and carries it to the small intestine, where it can then be absorbed in the bloodstream. This special protein is essential for Vitamin B12 to be absorbed into the body. In some cases, people have impaired secretion of the intrinsic factor, which makes absorbing Vitamin B12 in the bloodstream a little more difficult and can also increase the risk of deficiency. 

★ WHY IS VITAMIN B12 IMPORTANT DURING PREGNANCY? 

Vitamin B12 plays an important role in developing the baby’s neural tube formation, brain and spine development, nerve tissue, and the formation of their red blood cells. It is also essential in the formation of their DNA! Some studies suggest that mothers who have low Vitamin B12 levels are at an increased risk of birthing a baby with neural tube defects. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient for the body, as well as during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. 

★ IS IT SAFE TO TAKE VITAMIN B12 WHILE PREGNANT? 

Yes, taking Vitamin B12 while pregnant is safe, and is very important for the development and overall health of your baby. Most mothers experience several pregnancy symptoms, like nausea and vomiting, that may interfere with their dietary intakes and affect the amount of Vitamin B12 being consumed daily. Instances like these can increase your risk of developing certain deficiencies, like vitamin B12 deficiency, which can be harmful to both mother and baby and may increase the risk of certain birth defects. 

Those trying to conceive or who are currently pregnant should eat a diet rich in vitamin B12 to ensure a healthy pregnancy and a healthy, developed baby. Along with a diet high in Vitamin B12, a prenatal vitamin is recommended to ensure that there is enough of this vitamin for both mother and for your baby.

★ HOW MUCH VITAMIN B12 DURING PREGNANCY?

The amount of Vitamin B12 that a pregnant woman’s body needs is 2.6 micrograms daily. For non-pregnant adults, the Vitamin B12 recommendation is lower, at 2.4 micrograms per day. 

★ CAN I TAKE VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENTS WHILE BREASTFEEDING?

Yes, Vitamin B12 is a standard component of human breast milk. The recommendation for breastfeeding mothers is 2.8 micrograms of Vitamin B12 daily and for infants aged 6 months or less is 0.4 mcg. Some studies recommend 5.5 mcg per day during lactation. (1)

★ WHAT ARE THE SIGNS/SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY?

Symptoms of Vitamin B12 deficiency can include weakness, fatigue, light-headedness, pale skin, rapid heartbeat, and being easily bruised. Most people don’t know the lasting effects that Vitamin B12 deficiency can have on both mother and baby. You are at a higher risk for developing a Vitamin B12 deficiency if you avoid meat, poultry, or eggs in your diet. A lack of Vitamin B12 in your diet can lead to deficiency, also known as pernicious anemia. 

Some studies suggest that the risk of Vitamin B12 deficiency in vegetarians can be reduced by eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, green leafy vegetables, plant oils, nuts, and seeds. Eating a diet high in both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 can increase brain development and help to avoid the risk of a deficiency. 

Talk to your doctor if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency. 

★ BEST VITAMIN B12-RICH FOODS DURING PREGNANCY

Vitamin B12 is only found in animal products. Plant foods do not contain Vitamin B12 unless fortified. Other good sources of Vitamin B12 include fortified breakfast cereals as well as plant milks, like soy. 

Foods high in Vitamin B12 include: 

  • Beef, liver, and chicken
  • Fish and Shellfish 
  • Eggs 
  • Low-fat dairy products

So, you may be wondering, how do I get enough Vitamin B12 in my diet if I don’t eat animal products? If you are vegan or vegetarian or do not consume enough of the foods listed above, it is essential to take a prenatal vitamin during your pregnancy. 

PRENATAL VITAMIN WITH VITAMIN B12

★ BEST PRENATAL VITAMINS WITH VITAMIN B12

The Feed Mom and Me Prenatal Vitamin is one of the best over-the-counter prenatal Vitamins. It contains 2.6 micrograms of Vitamin B12 to be sure that both mother and baby are receiving adequate supplementation while your baby is developing!

This prenatal is formulated by an OBGYN & Registered Dietitian, containing all the nutrients needed to conceive and during pregnancy. Each small and easy-to-swallow pill is packed with 22 key natural nutrients to provide nutritional support for you and your growing baby. It contains Folate (methyl folate form), DHA, Iron, Calcium, Choline, Biotin, Zinc, Magnesium, and Selenium.

The vegetarian formula is free of artificial colors or flavors, chemicals, preservatives, non-GMO, dairy, soy, or gluten-free. Each of their capsules contains B6, Organic Ginger, and Peppermint Powder, which can help alleviate morning sickness and nausea.

Adding to that, it is a women-owned company. Who better than a female would understand pregnancy!