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Why Do Moms Need Vitamin B12 | Hea Boosters

Vitamin B12 (aka cobalamin) keeps the body’s nerve cells and blood cells healthy. It also helps us synthesize DNA, (the genetic material in our cells), helps mothers stay healthy, and is vital for the proper growth of the baby. Pregnant women need an additional amount of vitamin B12 as this nutrient is crucial for the development and functioning of the baby’s brain.

Why do we need vitamin B12:

  • Boosts energy:
One of eight B-vitamins this little nutrient has a big role to play in helping our bodies convert the food we eat into glucose, (or energy). One of the early signs of a deficiency of vitamin B12 is a lack of energy and an overwhelming feeling of fatigue.
  • Improves mood:
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in synthesising and metabolising serotonin, a chemical responsible for regulating mood. Therefore, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to decreased serotonin production, which may present itself as a depressed mood.
  • Helps in the production of red blood cells:
The human body produces millions of blood cells every second, and these cells cannot multiply without B12. When a pregnant woman doesn't get enough vitamin B12 from their diet, her body can't produce enough healthy red blood cells.

This causes anaemia and seriously impairs the oxygen-carrying ability of her blood which in turn can contribute to birth defects and lead to other complications and issues. While there are a large number of natural sources of vitamin B12, women who don't eat meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs have a greater risk of developing vitamin B12 deficiency.
  • Impacts breastmilk:
Vitamin B12 is transferred from the mother to the baby, first through the placenta (during pregnancy), and through breastmilk after delivery. Mothers who are deficient in B12 may not be able to pass it on to their baby. Babies with vitamin B12 deficiency may develop anaemia, abnormal skin and hair development.
  • Supports bone health:
A lack of vitamin B12 decreases the mineral density of bones, rendering them delicate and fragile over time. This puts women at an increased risk for osteoporosis. Studies have also shown a concrete link between low vitamin B12 levels, poor bone health and osteoporosis, especially in women.

According to FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India), men and women need around 1 microgram per day, pregnant and lactating women need 1.2 and 1.5 micrograms of vitamin B12 per day. Our bodies do not make vitamin B12 and, owing to its water-soluble nature, it is not stored in our body and thus needs to be constantly replenished through our diets.

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are common in people who do not have a balanced diet. Older adults, people with gastrointestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, vegetarians and people on a strict vegan diet are the ones who have more chances of having vitamin B12 deficiency.

Symptoms of a low level of vitamin B12 include a tingling sensation in the hands and legs, lower energy levels, a loss of appetite and consequent weight loss. Other symptoms include, poor memory, soreness in the tongue and mouth and physical imbalance.

How much vitamin B12 is too much?

Since vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, any excesses are excreted through the urinary system. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been established for this nutrient due to its low level of toxicity.

Foods that contain vitamin B12:

Generally, vitamin B12 is found naturally in a wide variety of animal foods but can also be added to other food groups creating what has come to be known as “fortified foods”. Plant-based foods have no vitamin B12 (unless they are artificially fortified).

An egg has 0.6 micrograms of B12, which fulfils 60% of the required daily value. 100 grams of paneer contains 0.6 micrograms of B12. 200 ml of fortified soya milk provides vegans with 0.8 micrograms of B12, (80% of the daily value). Supplements are a great option for vegans, vegetarians, people who struggle to obtain enough B12 or have a condition that affects its absorption too.

Other foods that contain sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 are - a cup of yoghurt (contains 1.6 mcg), a quarter cup of tuna (contains 1.4 mcg), 100 ml of milk contains 0.5 mcg and a cup of tempeh has 0.2 mcg of vitamin B12.

Conclusion:

Vitamin B12 is essential to ensure the high-quality mother’s health and the proper development of her baby. It’s responsible for many bodily functions and benefits your health in various ways, including preventing major birth defects, supporting bone health, improving mood and maintaining healthy skin and hair.

Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin B12 through your diet is crucial for both mother and baby. A balanced diet that includes animal-based foods, nuts and fruits, and other fortified cereals or supplements will ensure that you get enough B12 to keep your body functioning well.

Sources:
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-Consumer/
https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18709885/
https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/water-soluble-vitamin
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19151987/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12612156/

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