Folic acid has long been the hero that ensures your baby’s development is healthy, however many pregnant and nursing mothers are unaware that vitamin B12 is just as important in preventing neural tube and other neurological defects according to the World Health Organization.
So why is it important?
For starters we know how essential vitamin B12 is for the function and development of your, brain, nerves and blood cells, but did you know it can help improve your energy levels, mood and stress levels during pregnancy? Vitamin B12 also assists with the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
A severe B12 deficiency is associated with an increased risk for several adverse pregnancy outcomes for both mother and baby. The risks include neural tube defects, intrauterine growth retardation, preeclampsia and early miscarriage, and it is for this reason that the idea of increasing your B12 intake alongside Folic Acid is growing in popularity in the medical world.
Boosting your B12 intake
According to the National Institute of Health pregnant moms should consume 2.6 micrograms (mcg) and nursing moms should consume 2.8 mcg of B12 per day. You can do this by eating fortified foods and animal and dairy products like beef, liver, eggs, milk, poultry as well as fish.
Increasing vitamin B12 intake is especially important for pregnant mothers who are vegetarians. This is because plant foods do not have vitamin B12 in them unless they are fortified, therefore it is important for expectant mothers to see a physician with regard to supplementation.
Breastfeeding and B12
Babies from birth to six months should consume 0.4 mcg of vitamin B12, however not much of this vital nutrient makes it to your baby via breastmilk. In the case of babies who are breastfed by mothers who are vegan or vegetarian the chances of developing a B12 deficiency within months of birth is increased substantially.
Resources: Livestrong, Fit Pregnancy