Pregnancy creates increased nutritional needs in the body. The mother and the fetus require increased amount of micro and macro nutrients to survive through the demanding period of pregnancy.
Vitamin B12, otherwise called as cobalamin is crucial for maintaining a healthy nervous system. During pregnancy, it is believed that when it is combined with Folic acid supplements, it helps in thwarting off spina bifidia and other spinal and central nervous system disorders in your growing baby.
Vitamin B12 is found in fortified soy milk and other soy products, fish, egg, poultry and green leafy vegetables. Rather than taking supplements of it, consuming a wholesome diet rich in the vitamin is proved to be more beneficial.
Pregnancy is the most delicate and crucial period in a woman’s life. The surging hormones and the growing baby wrecks havoc in the expectant woman’s system. To support and nurture a new life, an expecting woman’s body requires an increased amount of micro and macro nutrients.Although the old adage “eating for two” is not entirely true, but eating a wholesome food rich in essential nutrients is very much important to glide through the treacherous path of pregnancy and deliver a healthy baby.
Vitamin B12 is generally necessary for maintaining a healthy nervous system, but during pregnancy it becomes all the more important because it helps to put together the proteins that make up the physical body of the baby. When combined with Folic acid supplements, vitamin B12 or cobalamin helps in keeping spina bifidia and other spinal and central nervous system disorders in the baby at bay.
Benefits of vitamin B12 in the growing fetus:
- It helps in the healthy development of the central nervous system. According to a study published in the journal Early human development, women who ate steak which is rich in vitamin B12 during the first trimester, gave birth to babies who cried eight times lesser than the babies born to women who had lesser vitamin B12 status during pregnancy. Scientists believe that this is due to the fact that, lack of vitamin B12 may reduce infant’s brain’s ability to produce the sleep harmone melatonin leading to sleeplessness.
- Helps to make DNA, the genetic material in all the cells when combined with folate.
- Aids in the formation of neural tubes of the fetus, brain and spine development
- Promotes smooth functioning and development of brain, nerve, and blood cells in the growing baby.
- Supports smooth functioning of the central nervous system and the neurological function by aiding the proper synthesis of myelin and fatty acids.
- Boosts the energy levels, and elevates the mood and suppress stress levels by aiding the proper synthesis and balance of fats, carbohydrates and proteins in the expectant woman.
- Vitamin B12 is essential even postpartum, as it helps to increase breast milk supply in lactating mothers.
Read more: Foods that Increase Breast Milk Supply
Effects of lack of vitamin B12 during pregnancy :
Deficiency of vitamin B12 can result in adverse pregnancy outcomes which can have lasting effects on both mother and child.
Miscarriage: Though many doctors say miscarriage and vitamin B12 deficiency are faintly related, many studies done recently prove otherwise. The experiments prove that 31% of women who lost their babies had high levels of homosystenine (an amino acid). Elevated homosystenine is caused due to the lack of folate, vitamin B12 and B6.
Neural tube defects in the baby: When mothers are deficient in B12 the damage to their babies start happening in the womb itself. When brain and spine are not formed properly, severe birth defects like neural tube defects and spina bifidia happens in the baby.
Preterm Birth: Vitamin B12 deficiency is also associated with increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight in babies.
Anemia: Vitamin B12 is necessary for the body’s vital functions, including the production of red blood cells and cellular metabolic energy. B12 deficiency can cause anaemia and severe damage to the nervous system of the growing fetus .
Read more: Foods Rich in Vitamin K
21 Food Products Rich in Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is commonly found in animal products only so vegans can opt for soy products and food items fortified with the B12 vitamins.
1) Clams: Clams are a kind of molluscs shellfish rich in vitamin B12. 3 ounces of cooked clams contain 84.1 mcg of vitamin B12. They are also good source of potassium.
2) Oysters: 3 ounces of cooked oysters contain 21.84 mcg of vitamin B12.
3) Mussels: 3 ounces of mussels contain 20.4 mcg of vitamin B12. Apart from this it also contains vitamin A and C. Mussels is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
4) Crab: Apart from vitamin B12, crab meat is also rich in Vitamin A, C and magnesium.
5) Sardines: 3 ounces of sardines contain 7.4 mcg of vitamin B12. They are also rich source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
6) Trout: It is a fatty fish, 3 ounces of which contains 5.4 mcg of B12 vitamin. It also contains vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in fair amount.
7) Tuna: 3 ounces of tuna Contains 2.5 mcg of B12.
8) Haddock: 3 ounces of haddock contains 1.8 mcg of vitamin B12. Haddock is also a great source of low fat protein.
9) Beef: Beef is packed with proteins and is an excellent source of vitamin B12. 3 ounces contain 7 mg of B12. But since beef is a red meat overloaded with cholesterol it is better to limit the amount and keep it lean.
10) Yoghurt: In addition to B12 vitamin, yoghurt is also a great source of calcium, magnesium and proteins. It is also filled with probotics and hence very nutritious.
11) Eggs: Eggs are filled with high quality protein and 1 large egg contains 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
12) Chicken: Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein and hence a wonderful fat burning food. 3 ounces of roasted chicken contains 0.3mcg of B12.
13) Milk: 1 cup of milk contains 2.5 mcg of vitamin B12.
14) Liver: 3 ounces of liver contains 72mcg of vitamin B12.
15) Lamb: Lamb is a top vitamin B12 foods. 3 ounces contain 2.7 mcg of B12. It is also a good source of protein, iron, selenium and zinc.
16) Feta cheese: Feta cheese is made from a mix of goat’s and sheep’s milk. Half a cup of feta cheese contains 1.25mcg of B12 vitamin.
17) Cottage cheese: It is an excellent source of calcium, protein and vitamin B12. One cup contains 1.97 mcg.
18) Atlantic mackerel: It is one of the top rated fishes as it is not only a good source of B12 but is also loaded with omega-3s and low in mercury. 3 ounces contain 7.4 mcg of B12.
19) Swiss cheese: It is higher in vitamin B12 than many other cheese, providing about 14% of daily requirement of B12 per ounce.
20) Nutritional yeast: It is not brewer’s yeast as it is commonly mistaken. It is a deactivated yeast produced by culturing the yeast with a mixture of sugarcane and beet molasses, then harvesting, washing, drying and packaging the yeast.It is a good source of B12 and is a very good option for vegans.
21) Food products fortified with B12: Many food products like cereals, soy products, almonds, rice etc are available in the market that are fortified with B12 vitamins and are very good options for vegans.
Read more: Foods Rich in Vitamin D