Women with access to good health care typically know that during pregnancy, their self-care game needs to level up. After all, in that stage of life, self-care isn’t really just self-care; it’s also tiny human care. Taking high quality, prenatal specific vitamins is one of the first things a doctor will recommend. Our bodies need a full buffet of nutrients, especially when supporting another life, but out of all of the requirements, the Vitamin B’s are some of the most important. As you choose your supplements, make sure to get plenty of these B Vitamins during pregnancy.
Vitamin B9, maybe better known as folate, plays a big role in the prevention of neural tube defects–defects in the brain, spine, or spinal cord of a developing fetus. B9 deficiencies are also associated with anemia, which can make you even more tired than you would already be during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters. All that said, getting healthy doses of folate early on in pregnancy is important. And your doctor will probably explain that to you.
While some moms-to-be will be able to get their folate from a multivitamin containing folic acid, as many as 70%, whether or not they are aware/diagnosed, won’t actually benefit from intaking straight folic acid. A genetic variation known as an MTHFR variant, which blocks or highly impairs the conversion of folic acid into a bioavailable nutrient.
Folate IS available through diet since it naturally occurs in foods like leafy greens, but it still has to be processed by the liver into methylfolate, which is the form your body can use. If you are among that 70% who has difficulty processing folate, there is a workaround. L-Methylfolate supplements are already converted, ready to be absorbed and metabolized by the body. For individuals with MTHFR variation, this means that those pesky conversion and transport steps have already been done for them.
Vitamin B1, aka, Thiamine is linked to healthy brain development in fetuses. Actual brain volume may be smaller in babies when the biological mother has a thiamine deficiency, so it can affect a variety of functions in the body. Many, if not all, prenatal vitamins on the market will contain the suggested amount of B1, but the best way to get your nutrients during pregnancy is with a healthy diet.
Some foods containing B1: whole grain pasta, yeast, pork, and brown rice.
Developing babies’ brains and nervous systems benefit tremendously from a healthy dose of Vitamin B6. Plus, you get more energy from your food when you have healthy levels of B6, which naturally occurs in foods such as:
- Sweet Potatoes
- Sunflower Seeds
- Brown Rice
- Prune Juice
Vitamin B12 (and yes, it has another name, too–Cobalamin–but B12 is easier, right?) is credited with keeping a mother’s nervous system healthy but is also shown to help baby, as well. Especially when combined with B9 (folate), it may help to prevent spina bifida and develop a spine and healthier nervous system in a growing fetus. Eating foods like milk, poultry, and fish can assure that you are getting natural sources of B12 during your pregnancy, along with the amounts that are included in your prenatal vitamin.
Vitamin B7, Biotin, helps to convert food into energy, which you’ll find to be VERY important while you’re pregnant. You need all the energy you can get. Healthy biotin levels are also linked to healthy skin, hair, and nails, as well as to the growth of embryos. Naturally occurring sources of biotin are foods like
- sweet potatoes
Be advised, however, that for all of the benefits of healthy levels of biotin, biotin is one vitamin that can have adverse effects if your levels are too high.
Not to be ignored, Vitamins B3 and B5 can help with pregnancy-specific symptoms like leg cramps and nausea.
No matter where you look for your supplements or what type you’re seeking, make it a habit to look at all the facts on the label to ensure that the source of your vitamins are in fact the most effective, most readily metabolized source. Now, go get your glow on and brag about how great you feel.