Vitamin B12 For Pregnant Women: Is your body getting enough B12? It is one of the essential nutrients for expecting women, new mothers and infants. Let’s read what our experts - Dr. Pallavi Aga, MBBS MD Doctor, Nutritionist & Life Consultant, and Dr Tarunashree Prabhakara, Research Assistant, have to say on the subject.
Importance Of Vitamin B12 For Women, Expecting Mothers And Infants
Dr. Pallavi Aga says, “Vitamin B12 is one of the most essential micronutrients which cannot be produced by the human body and has to be obtained from the diet. It is also called the energy vitamin.”
It plays important functions like,
- Boosts immunity
- Takes care of skin and hair
- Helps new mothers with postpartum depression
- Prevents birth defects
- Develops brains of infants
- Supports bone health
- Takes care of heart
- Prevents age-related issues in the eyes
- Helps in the formation of red blood cells
Symptoms Of Vitamin B12 Deficiency Among Women
Dr. Pallavi and Dr. Prabhakara shared that women suffering from Vitamin B12 deficiency would observe,
- Loss of energy, fatigue and depression
- Lowered immunity, lowered resistance to infection and decreased antibody formation
- Mouth ulcers, sore tongue, sore corner of the mouth
- Gut health issues like digestive disturbances like diarrhoea and constipation, anorexia, bloating
- Skin issues like hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, dark circles
- Neurological problems like irritability, insomnia (sleeplessness) or excessive sleepiness, burning feet, increased sensitivity to pain, numbness or tingling sensation, vision loss, cognitive impairment, poor memory including symptoms of dementia like confusion, acute psychosis and paranoid behaviour.
- Gait disturbances
Vitamin B12 Deficiency And Impact On Expecting Mothers
Dr. Aga said, “Vitamin B12 is essential for female reproductive health and pregnancy (pregnancy and hair loss). It is one of the most important vitamins that women need during pregnancy, especially for the formation of red blood cells, nervous system and good energy levels.”
She added, “Vitamin B12 prevents serious neural tube defects & other neurological defects in infants. However, unfortunately most pregnant women have a deficiency of it. The scariest part of the deficiency of this vitamin is that it can cause irreversible neurological problems like autism & developmental delays.”
She further said, “A deficiency of vitamin B12 is associated with severe pregnancy adverse outcomes for both mother and the growing baby. It increases risks of pre-eclampsia, premature delivery neural tube defects, IUGR and early miscarriage.”
Vitamin B12 deficiency is also associated with postpartum depression and anxiety. It can help expecting women with morning sickness if supplemented with pyridoxine.
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How Does Vitamin B12 Help Out Body?
Along with the aforementioned benefits, Dr. Aga says that vitamin B12 also helps with other things.
- It increases the usage of Vitamin A. It helps to make the liver more potent.
- It converts beta carotene into vitamin A.
- It prevents excess homocysteine levels, which in turn speeds atherosclerosis up. High levels of homocysteine increase the risk of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases.
Best Food Options For Vitamin B12 For Vegans, Vegetarians And Non-Vegetarians
Dr. Pallavi Aga says that important sources of vitamin B12 are egg yolks, meat fish like tuna, salmon and mackerel and animal liver. She also suggests dairy products like milk (goat milk benefits) and curd to ensure your diet has enough vitamin B12.
According to Dr. Aga, “Both vegans and vegetarians are prone to develop a deficiency of vitamin B12. Hence it is recommended to consume supplements of vitamin B12.”
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Our experts suggest tracking your gut health as poor gut health may lead to decreased absorption of vitamin B12. Some medications like Metformin or chronic usage of acid-reducing medicines can decrease vitamin B12 levels. It is also necessary to check thyroid levels as hypothyroidism is often associated with vitamin D & B12 deficiency.
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