B12 as Crucial as Folic Acid During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should know that taking folic acid is essential for the healthy development of your baby. According to the World Health Organization, vitamin B12 is equally important in preventing neural tube and other neurological defects in babies.
Vitamin B12 is important because it helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps in making DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Deficiency can result in adverse outcomes that can affect both mother and foetus. These risks include neural tube defects, preeclampsia intrauterine growth retardation, and early miscarriage. Even more terrifyingly, the neurological and developmental delays in babies caused by the deficiency are irreversible.
Boosting your B12 in pregnancy
The National Institutes of Health have recommended pregnant women to take 2.8 micrograms (mcg) of B12 per day. Most people get that through fortified foods and animal products like liver, fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products are the best sources of the vitamin.
If you are not consuming meat and dairy products then getting optimum amount of vitamin B12 is little difficult as plants have no vitamin B12 unless they are fortified. Vegetarians should consider consulting their doctor on supplementation.
Prenatal vitamins contain B12 but human body is not good at absorbing this particular vitamin; in fact we only absorb 1-2 per cent of a typical B complex supplement. Those who suffer from conditions like Crohn’s or celiac that affects the part of the bowel which absorbs the vitamin, or who have undergone bariatric surgery are also at risk of a deficiency. Taking a dose of 1000 mcg of B complex vitamin is advisable.
How do you know if you’re deficient?
Symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency include weakness, tiredness, or light-headedness, sore tongue, easy bruising or bleeding, pale skin, rapid heartbeat and breathing, including bleeding gums, weight loss, diarrhea or constipation and stomach upset. The prime causes of deficiency of vitamin B12 include malabsorption from food, dietary deficiency, post-surgical malabsorption, and pernicious anemia. However, in many cases, the cause of vitamin B12 deficiency is unknown. The risk for deficiency can be assessed by the doctor based on symptoms, diet, surgical history and prior medical and complete blood cell count of the pregnant woman.
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