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Vitamin B12 and pregnancy

If you are a vegan and breastfeeding your child it is important to keep an eye on your vitamin B12 levels.

Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is a water-soluble vitamin that contains the mineral cobalt. Vitamin B12 is very important for red blood cell blood formation, DNA synthesis and the functioning of your central and peripheral nervous systems.

Sources of Vitamin B12

  • fish
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • milk
  • cheese
  • eggs
  • poultry

How much vitamin B12 do I need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4 ug (micrograms) per day, for pregnant women the RDA is 2.6 ug (micrograms) per day. A healthy and balanced diet should be sufficient for ensuring you consume your full RDA of vitamin B12.

Having a vitamin B12 deficiency is uncommon, but possible. Vegans are at greatest risk of developing a deficiency if they do not use vitamin B12 enriched products or supplements as their diets exclude most of the natural source of vitamin B12.

It is highly recommended that you contact your physician if you are a strict vegan and breastfeeding your child, since a vitamin B12 deficiency in children can lead to lasting neurological damage. If your baby is suffering from a vitamin B12 deficiency he/she will most likely have movement problems and developmental delays, as well as megaloblastic anaemia and it is these symptoms which cause neurological damage. Excess folic acid may mask the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency, so make sure you check with your physician to ensure you and your baby are receiving the right amount of vitamin B12 and folic acid that you need.

If a deficiency does arise you shouldn't have to worry, because once it is caught early your physician will be able to set out a treatment plan that will prevent any lasting damage.

More about vitamins during prengancy.