Pregnancy is an exciting and transformative time in a woman’s life, full of new experiences and responsibilities. As an expectant mother, you have a unique opportunity to shape your baby’s growth and development.
One crucial aspect is ensuring the right nutrients, specifically folate and vitamin B12 in pregnancy. In this blog post, we will discuss a recent study on the importance of folate and vitamin B12 during pregnancy and provide easy-to-understand information to help you maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Why are Folate and Vitamin B12 Essential During Pregnancy?
Folate and vitamin B12 are essential nutrients for your and your baby’s health during pregnancy. They play a critical role in forming your baby’s neural tube, developing the brain and spinal cord, and preventing birth defects.
Maternal intake of these nutrients and your prepregnancy body mass index (ppBMI) can influence their levels in your body.
Are Folic Acid Intakes Associated with High Folate Status?
A recent study on French-Canadian pregnant individuals showed that higher folic acid intakes from supplements predicted higher serum total folate levels throughout pregnancy.
The study sought to assess the status of folate and vitamin B12 throughout pregnancy, examine how these nutrients are associated with their intake and prepregnancy body mass index, and determine the predictors of serum total folate and plasma total vitamin B12.
Folate level in Pregnant women
Most participants had elevated serum total folate concentrations throughout their pregnancy, with levels above 45.3 nmol/L.
A good folate level for pregnancy ranges from 6.12 to 38.52 nmol/L. So, this is considered high and reflects an intake of folic acid above the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), set at 1000 μg/d.
A staggering 79.6% to 86.1% of participants reported a total folic acid intake above the UL. This high folate level was primarily driven by supplements, which accounted for 71.9% to 76.1% of total folic acid intake.
Most pregnant women take folic acid above the UL to prevent folate deficiency which may lead to anemia and can disrupt making DNA and producing red blood cells. The deficiency symptoms include fatigue, weakness, mouth sores, and neurological issues.
Vitamin B12 level in Pregnant women
Vitamin B12 levels were generally adequate, with mean plasma total vitamin B12 concentrations above 220 pmol/L. However, there was a difference in vitamin B12 concentrations depending on ppBMI and pregnancy stage. Supplement use accounted for 35.3% to 41.8% of total vitamin B12 intake.
While ppBMI was not correlated with serum total folate, it was weakly correlated with and predicted lower plasma total vitamin B12 in the third trimester (T3) of pregnancy. The deficiency can lead to infertility and repeated miscarriage. Effects like adverse neurological outcomes in exclusively breastfed infants are common in the third-trimester vitamin B12 deficiency.
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Does folic acid increase B12 levels?
Folic acid does not increase vitamin B12 levels directly. However, folic acid supplementation can sometimes improve vitamin B12 deficiency symptoms.
Folate and Vitamin B12 in Pregnancy: Implications for Pregnant Women
What does all of this mean for you as an expectant mother? Let’s break down the key takeaways:
Folate supplementation is essential during pregnancy, but finding the right balance is crucial. While having a high folate level in your body is generally considered safe, consistently consuming folic acid above the UL can lead to potential health risks for you and your baby.
Speak with your healthcare provider about the appropriate dosage of folic acid for your specific needs.
Vitamin B12 is equally important for your baby’s development, and maintaining adequate levels throughout pregnancy is vital. Consider incorporating vitamin B12-rich foods, such as fortified cereals, dairy products, and meat, into your diet.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, speak to your healthcare provider about appropriate supplementation.
Body Mass and Nutrition
Your ppBMI can impact vitamin B12 levels, particularly in the third trimester. Monitor your vitamin B12 levels throughout pregnancy and adjust your intake as needed.
Be mindful of the source of your nutrients. While supplements can be beneficial, it’s essential to prioritize a balanced and nutritious diet. Consuming a variety of whole foods can help ensure you receive adequate nutrition.
In conclusion, the study highlights the importance of folate and vitamin B12 during pregnancy and the crucial role that supplements and diet play in maintaining adequate levels of these vitamins.
Check our blogs to learn more about dietary supplements.
I started my professional career as a sports medicine consultant in Rola, Missouri. My primary role was to suggest suitable supplements for my patients according to their pre-existing conditions and lifestyle goals. I believe a healthy lifestyle is the most important if you want to make your life really meaningfull.