Eating a well-rounded diet with the right vitamins and minerals is key to supporting a healthy pregnancy. Among these vital nutrients, vitamin B12 and folic acid play a significant role in nurturing healthy pregnancy.
Embarking on the journey of pregnancy is a transformative experience, and ensuring the well-being of both mother and baby during this time is paramount. It is a period to focus on your nutrition, not just for yourself but also for the growing baby. Eating a well-rounded diet with the right vitamins and minerals is key to supporting a healthy pregnancy. Among these vital nutrients, vitamin B12 and folic acid play a significant role in nurturing healthy pregnancy.
Understanding The Role of Vitamin B12 And Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin essential for various bodily functions, including DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation, and neurological health. During pregnancy, the demand for Vitamin B12 increases as it supports the developing fetus’s rapid cell division and growth. Vitamin B12 is also important for the health of the mother, as it helps to reduce the risk of anaemia and birth defects.
Vitamin B9 also referred to as folic acid, is especially important in the early stages of pregnancy because it helps prevent neural tube abnormalities, which are birth disorders affecting the baby’s brain and spinal cord. Numerous studies show that consuming 400 micrograms of folic acid daily greatly reduces the risk of neural tube defects. The National Health Service (UK) recommends that women who have experienced a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects (NTD) and are intending to conceive should incorporate a daily 400-microgram folic acid supplement before and during the crucial first 12 weeks of pregnancy, as this period is vital for the development of the baby’s spine.
While Folic Acid supplementation during pregnancy has been extensively researched, recent studies highlight the crucial synergy with Vitamin B12. Several studies into pregnancies with neural tube defects reveal reduced levels of Vitamin B12 in amniotic fluid. Moreover, combined supplementation of Folic Acid and Vitamin B12 demonstrates the reduced rate of spina bifida (neural birth defect), palate and rib malformations, kidney abnormalities, and foetal weight retardation in the foetus.
What are the Food Sources of Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid?
Ensuring an adequate intake of Vitamin B12 and folic acid is essential, and while supplements are an option, it is vital to incorporate these nutrients into your diet through food. Animal products like meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products are excellent sources of vitamin B12. For folic acid, focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods like leafy greens such as kale, cabbage, spinach, and spring greens, along with broccoli, legumes, citrus fruits, and fortified grains. Including these nutrient-rich sources in a well-balanced pregnancy, diet enables expectant mothers to enhance their nutritional intake and promote a healthy pregnancy.
According to Rohit Shelatkar, Fitness and Nutrition Expert, VP Vitabiotics Ltd, “Taking care of your dietary needs is key to nurturing a healthy pregnancy, particularly when it comes to important vitamins like folic acid and B12. These nutrients are essential for the growth, and development of your baby’s brain, and spinal cord. Although a well-balanced diet can provide essential nutrients, there are situations where taking supplements could be important. Speak with your doctor to decide on the best action and guarantee a healthy pregnancy.”