Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Pregnancy

Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Pregnancy
0 24 June 2018
Vitamin B12 Supplementation in Pregnancy

Vitamin B12  is a water soluble vitamin, essential for proper red cell formation, neurological function and DNA synthesis. Its deficiency is very common affecting 1.5-15% of the general population, the cause being unknown. Its deficiency results in anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, weight loss, neurological problems like tingling and numbness in hands and feet, neuropathy, poor memory, confusion and sore mouth.

Maternal vitamin B12 deficiency is associated with the increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes  like low birth weight babies, premature delivery and neural tube defects i.e. defects affecting the brain and spinal cord of the fetus. During infancy it could result in lack of weight gain, delayed development of milestones, poor mentation and megaloblastic anemia.

The natural sources of vitamin B12 are fish, meat, poultry, eggs and milk products, fish and red meat being excellent sources. Vegetarian diet is a poor source of the vitamin.

Maternal vitamin B12 levels gradually decline throughout the normal pregnancy, thus requiring its supplementation during the pregnancy. Exclusively breastfed infants depend on maternal reserves for their nutritional needs. A women who is on a vegetarian diet is not able to meet the neonatal requirements of vitamin B 12. As a result the baby may suffer from significant neurological damage. Thus such babies often require supplementation to prevent the effects of its deficiency.

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin B 12 for healthy adult is 2.4 mcg whereas that during pregnancy and lactation is 2.6 – 2.8 mcg.

The neurological symptoms of vitamin B 12 deficiency can occur without anemia, as a result early diagnosis and treatment is essential to prevent irreversible damage. There are various formulations available for vitamin B 12 supplementation like oral , sublingual or injectable, depending upon the individual case requirement. Appropriate consultation with the physician is advised for management of the problem.

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