Non-Vegetarian Items and Dairy May Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency During Pregnancy

Vegetarians, especially the vegans, are generally at the risk of being deficient of B12.

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Non-Vegetarian Items and Dairy May Prevent Vitamin B12 Deficiency During Pregnancy

Highlights

  1. Vitamin B12 is extremely important for health
  2. Its deficiency can cause a host of ailments
  3. Lack of vitamin B12 during pregnancy can have ill-effects on the baby
Out of a range of micronutrients essential for the growth, development and repair of the body, vitamin B12 holds key importance. From red blood cells production, DNA synthesis to regulating cell metabolism, the vitamin plays a pivotal role in ensuring smooth functioning of a host of processes in the body. Human body doesn't produce the vitamin on its own; therefore it is important to source it through diet. In most cases vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products; vegetarians are therefore more prone to its deficiency and may have to source it from supplements.

The deficiency

Vitamin B12 deficiency can manifest in digestive issues, muscle weakness, fatigue, lethargy, poor memory, shortness of breath and persistent anemia. Lack of vitamin B12 can also cause complications in pregnant women posing threat to the fetus. In a previously conducted study, experts at the Warwick University had linked low vitamin B12 deficiency in pregnant women with risk of diabetes in the offspring.

B12 deficiency and pregnancy

"The nutritional environment provided by the mother can permanently programme the baby's health. Maternal B12 deficiency may affect fat metabolism and contribute to this risk," Ponusammy Saravanan, Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Warwick in Britain was quoted by IANS. The study was presented at the Society for Endocrinology's annual Conference in Brighton and suggested low or inadequate vitamin B12 levels during pregnancy to trigger high leptin levels in the baby. Such babies were also found to be more susceptible to metabolic ailments, like diabetes, later in life.

Symptoms and diet

Unfortunately, vitamin B12 deficiency is also highly under-diagnosed. It is therefore important to get regular blood tests done and listen to your body for the minor hints. Some other signs of vitamin B12 deficiency include daytime drowsiness, pale skin, and irritability. People ageing 14 and above are recommended to have 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B12 every day. Pregnant women require 2.6 micrograms and 2.8 micrograms daily when then move on to breastfeed their child.

"Vegetarians, especially the vegans, are generally at the risk of being deficient of B12. The vitamin is found chiefly in non-vegetarian diet as well as in milk and dairy products," Dr. Ritika Sammadar from Max Healthcare Saket in New Delhi.

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