Vitamin B12 and Pregnancy

vitamin b12

Vitamin B12, also known as Cobalamin, is a nutrient needed to maintain the health of the nervous system. The vitamin helps in the development and function of the brain, nerves and blood cells, improves energy, mood and stress levels, and works together with folic acid to produce DNA and red blood cells. Deficiency can lead to vitamin B12 anemia causing fatigue and weakness.

During pregnancy, vitamin B12 is important for the development and function of your baby’s brain and spinal cord to prevent serious neural tube defects such as:

  • Spina bifida (baby’s spine not forming correctly)
  • Anencephaly (the spinal cord and brain do not form properly)
  • Encephalocele (parts of the brain begins to push out)

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you need 2.6mcg of vitamin B12 daily. It can be found in some prenatal vitamins, animal-based food products and certain fortified foods. Good sources of vitamin B12 include:

  • Fish
  • Meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Milk and other dairy
  • Fully cooked clams
  • Beef liver (avoid eating liver in the first trimester and limit to 1oz once or twice a month)
  • Fortified breakfast cereals such as WIC-approved cereals
  • Nutritional yeasts
  • Soy milk or soy products

If you are vegan or vegetarian, you should take an extra vitamin B12 supplement or a prenatal vitamin containing B12 to get the recommended daily amount. Those who had gastric bypass, have pernicious anemia, Celiac or Crohn’s disease may have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 and should also take supplements. Please consult your health provider before adding in an additional vitamin B12 supplement, as it can interact or interfere with some medications or other supplements you take.

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