Adequate Vitamin B12 for Women That May Become Pregnant

I do believe that it is important to take a multivitamin/mineral for good health. Our food supply isn’t what it was even 50 years ago and our requirements for nutrients have increased because of pollution and other stress factors.   In women of childbearing age nutrient supplementation is even more imperative. There is plenty of research that points to a few supplements that are very important during pregnancy:  A good multivitamin, Vitamin D (from Nov-Mar in Northeast),  and Fish oil or algea based Docohexaenoic acid (DHA)).  These 3 supplements are probably adequate for most mothers to be during perinatal time.

One of the supplements that we can only obtain from animal sources is vitamin B12.  All pregnant women hear about the importance of Folic acid.  We know that it prevents neural tube defects.  But the other ‘methylating’ nutrient that works with folic acid is Vitamin B12.  Vegetarians and especially vegans can be deficient in these nutrients and it is important to get blood work and be supplemented if necessary.   A study was just released showing that mothers with inadequate Vitamin B12 stores has an increase of birth defects.   This is much the same mechanism as folic acid preventing neural tube defects.

So get a good multivitamin.  One thing about multis is that you get what you pay for.  If it is inexpensive, it is more than likely cheap materials.  If you see the letters “FD&C” on the label then you know they used cheap artificial coloring and can bet the other ingredients in the multi are cheap.  I see so many people taking a multi from Wal-aMega company that aren’t doing so well.  So I give them a professional grade multi to try out and in the majority of cases they feel much better.   If the professional product gives more strength and energy  that means the cheaperhorse pill they were taking wasn’t getting into the cells of their body – or at least not getting into the right places.   So don’t skimp on supplements, especially if you plan on becoming pregnant!

Below is the entire press release from Reuters.

In Health
George Mandler
Maynard, MA & Cambridge, MA
Assabet Valley Natural Health
My previous Acupuncture & Nutrition blog

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Before becoming pregnant, women need to get enough vitamin B12 in addition to folic acid to cut their risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain and spinal cord, researchers said on Monday.

Irish women with the lowest vitamin B12 levels were five times more likely to have a baby with a neural tube defect than those with the highest levels, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics.

Neural tube defects can lead to lifelong disability or death. The two most common ones are spina bifida, in which the spinal cord and back bones do not form properly, and anencephaly, a fatal condition in which the brain and skull bones do not develop normally.

Dr. James Mills of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, one of the researchers, said the study showed that vitamin B12 deficiency was a risk factor for neural tube defects independent of folic acid, another B vitamin.

Many women now know of the importance of folic acid and there has been a drop in neural tube defects.

Mills said he hopes that awareness of the similar role of vitamin B12 can reduce neural tube defects further.

Vitamin B12 is essential to maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells. It is found in meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish and fortified breakfast cereals. It also can be taken as an individual supplement or in a multivitamin.

“An absolutely critical point is that women have to consider this before they become pregnant because once they realize they are pregnant it’s likely to be too late,” Mills, a researcher in the NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, said in a telephone interview.

The developmental events involved in these birth defects occur in the first four weeks of pregnancy, Mills said.

Mills urged women who do not eat meat or dairy products to be particularly aware of the need to get enough vitamin B12.

He had similar advice for women with an intestinal disorder such as inflammatory bowel disease that may prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of the vitamin.

The study involved almost 1,200 women in Ireland who gave blood samples during early pregnancy, which were analyzed to determine vitamin B12 levels.

The women in the lowest 25 percent of vitamin B12 levels were five times more likely than those in the highest 25 percent to have had a baby with a neural tube defect.

The researchers suggested that women have vitamin B12 levels above 300 nanograms per liter before getting pregnant.

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