A lot of your nutritional needs can change during pregnancy to accommodate the changes your body goes through when creating a small human. Knowing what your body and baby needs is really important throughout your pregnancy, and understanding what could be harmful is just as critical.
Vitamin B12 is a vital nutrient. It is the most chemically complex of all vitamins, and is essential in making red blood cells, nerves and DNA. It is water soluble, which means it can dissolve in water and travel through the bloodstream. However, as it is not created by the body, it needs to be a consistent part of our diet to make sure we’re getting enough.
This article will look at whether or not it’s safe to have B12 supplements when you’re pregnant.
What does B12 do for the body?
Vitamin B12 performs many different functions in the body, as it supports the metabolism of every cell in the body, including the creation and management of red blood cells. B12 helps these cells to multiply correctly, and without a sufficient amount, their levels drop, which can cause anaemia.
It is vital in the production of DNA, and ensures the proper functioning of our nervous system. It does this by maintaining the myelin sheath, a substance which covers the nerves of our central and peripheral nervous systems.
If that wasn’t already enough, Vitamin B12 also helps to improve immune function. It contributes to the health of our brains, prevents cognitive decline, and reduces the symptoms of anxiety and depression. It does all this whilst giving you more energy, as do the other vitamins in the B Complex.
Is Vitamin B12 safe when pregnant?
In short, yes. You need Vitamin B12 just as much when you’re pregnant as when you’re not, and not just for your baby’s development, but for your own health and wellbeing too.
A lack of Vitamin B12 during pregnancy is believed to contribute to premature birth, and even miscarriage in the earlier stages of pregnancy (Molloy et al., 2008). Women who are trying to get pregnant should also make sure their B12 levels are sufficient, as a deficiency may cause temporary infertility.
B12 helps the body to absorb folic acid, which is needed within the body for energy production and release, supporting healthy energy levels and reducing fatigue. Folic acid, or folate, is vital for the body during pregnancy, so being able to absorb it more efficiently during this time is very important. As with a vitamin B12 deficiency, a lack of folate can also affect an unborn baby's growth and development.
Adequate B12 levels are vital during pregnancy to help prevent major birth defects. B12 helps to maintain you and your baby’s spine, and can prevent birth defects. Studies have shown that your baby’s brain and nervous system need B12 to develop properly in the womb. Vitamin B12 deficiency in the first few weeks of pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, including neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. These can have lifelong impacts on your child (Molloy et al., 2009)
B12 is stored by the body by up to 2000 times the amount your body needs day to day, has a very low toxicity and is water soluble, so any excess which cannot be stored is simply excreted by your body.
Vivo Life’s plant-based liquid B12 supplement contains 500mcg per serving of the three most active forms of vitamin B12: Methylcobalamin, Adenosylcobalamin and Hydroxocobalamin. This is to ensure optimal absorption, and supports a range of physical and psychological functions in the body, for you and your baby.
We chose a liquid form so it bypasses the digestive system and is absorbed rapidly into the bloodstream for maximum efficacy. All of our products are third party tested to ensure that they are 100% safe, free from herbicides, pesticides and heavy metals, which is especially important to ensure that your baby is not exposed to any dangerous compounds before they’re even born! As with any supplementation during pregnancy, no matter how clean the sources, your healthcare provider should be consulted in advance to ensure their suitability for you and your child.
Molloy, A.M., Kirke, P.N., Troendle, J.F., Burke, H., Sutton, M., Brody, L.C., Scott, J.M. and Mills, J.L. (2009). Maternal Vitamin B12 Status and Risk of Neural Tube Defects in a Population With High Neural Tube Defect Prevalence and No Folic Acid Fortification. PEDIATRICS, 123(3), pp.917–923. doi:10.1542/peds.2008-1173.
Molloy, A.M., Kirke, P.N., Brody, L.C., Scott, J.M. and Mills, J.L. (2008). Effects of folate and vitamin B12 deficiencies during pregnancy on fetal, infant, and child development. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, [online] 29(2 Suppl), pp.S101-111; discussion S112-115. doi:10.1177/15648265080292S114.