Pregnant women urged to take vitamin B12

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Pioneers of vitamin D and B12 sub-lingual spray supplementation have welcomed research which calls on pregnant women to take the vitamin with folic acid to help avoid birth defects.

The Shine charity findings show that women supplementing B12 prior to conception and in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy could reduce their likelihood of giving birth to children with spina bifida, hydrocephalus and other conditions affecting the central nervous system.

BetterYou, who produce Boost B12 oral spray, say the importance of B12 in development has been long understood, but that the new research sheds new light on why supplementation is so important.

Around one in 1000 pregnancies in the UK are affected by natural tube defects (NTD) but folic acid, when taken correctly before and during pregnancy, could prevent up to 72 percent of these cases.

Scientists have researched ways to reduce the risk further, studying potential benefits of vitamin B12, which helps the body to metabolise folic acid. These findings highlight a link between low folate and low B12 levels, with some studies suggesting a possible three-fold risk increase for NTDs in women with low levels of B12.

Vitamin B12 is known specifically for its role in producing healthy amounts of red blood cells, which are necessary for the proper delivery of the required oxygen to the body’s cells and tissues.

Methylcobalamin is the most active form of B12 present naturally in the human body, making it the most readily absorbable form.

Although B12 is found in popular foods, including red meats, fish and dairy products, a healthy digestive system will only absorb one percent of the vitamin from our diet. This means more of us now need supplementation.

Andrew Thomas, BetterYou founder and managing director, said: “The total amount of vitamin B12 stored in the body is about 5mg in adults with around 50 percent of this being stored in the liver – for several years if needed.

“This sounds positive – and it’s fair to say that nutritional deficiency of this vitamin should be rare. However, 0.5 percent of this is lost each day by secretions into the gut, and not all these secretions are reabsorbed. The result is that deficiency is becoming more prevalent than ever.

“How fast B12 levels change in the body depends on the balance between the amount obtained from the diet and the amount lost. Our intake of B12 is reducing as our diets rely more and more on processed meats. Combined with the reduced efficiency of our digestive system, B12 is one of the hardest vitamins to absorb.”

A recent study, carried out by Cardiff University investigating sublingual vitamin absorption found that nutrients are absorbed faster through the sub-lingual membrane – below the tongue and soft palate, and the buccal membrane than any other tissue area, other than the lungs, making a spray a desirable alternative to pills.

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