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Friday, March 6, 2009

Here's Why Pregnant Moms Need Plenty of Vitamin B12


10 Adar 5769


Here's something you might not have known: pregnancy usually causes a sharp drop in mom's Vitamin B12 levels.

The medical world agrees with me: pregnant women need ample Vitamin B12 for baby's health ;- )


Children born to women who have low blood levels of vitamin B12 shortly before and after conception may have an increased risk of a neural tube defect, according to an analysis by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Trinity College Dublin, and the Health Research Board of Ireland.

Women with the lowest B12 levels had 5 times the risk of having a child with a neural tube defect compared to women with the highest B12 levels.

Neural tube defects are a type of birth defects that affect the brain and spinal cord. Spina bifida can cause partial paralysis. Anencephaly is fatal: the brain and skull are so severely underdeveloped that the baby cannot live.

Women who eat little or no animal-based foods are the most likely group of women to have low B12 levels. Women who have intestinal disorders that prevent them from absorbing sufficient amounts of B12 share that problem.

Researchers know that taking the nutrient folic acid (the synthetic form of the vitamin folate) during the weeks before and after conception can greatly reduce a woman's chances of having a child with a neural tube defect.

"Vitamin B12 is essential for the functioning of the nervous system and for the production of red blood cells," said Duane Alexander, M.D., director of the NICHD. "The results of this study suggest that women with low levels of B12 not only may risk health problems of their own, but also may increase the chance that their children may be born with a serious birth defect."

Ireland's high rate of neural tube defects and the growing global popularity of non-meat diets mean that pregnant women must take care to swallow enough B12 in their meals. Vitamin B12 usually ends up on menus that include animal products.

Researchers know that B12 and folate "might interact to influence the formation of the neural tube, the embryonic structure that gives rise to the spine and brain." They're not sure how they interact, but caution is called for.

So watch your Ps and Qs ladies, and especially your B12s and Folate.

Women with digestive disorders
that interfere with food absorption
should speak to their doctors
about how best to cope
with their situation
BEFORE becoming pregnant.

Those first few weeks
of pregnancy have
a serious impact on
the developing child.

You can get Vitamin B12 from greens, home made sauerkraut dried and raw nori from Japan, milk, meats, poultry, eggs, plus from fortified cereals and some other fortified foods.

Find more information

Learn about Folate (it comes from in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and dried beans and peas) when you click on the NIH Office of Dietary Supplements.

Hear a doctor explain relevant findings on-line at

Read a transcript of the video on the NICHD Web site at

Check out The NICHD (it sponsors research on development, before and after birth; maternal, child, and family health; reproductive biology and population issues; and medical rehabilitation) at

Click on I'm Buying Yocheved's Book to Learn MORE about good nutrition and can-do menus!

To baby's good health and to mom's,

Yojeved Golani
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