It’s a great friend to expecting mothers and their babies, explains Ranjana Sharma.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier/Rediff.com
Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is important at any stage of life.
When you are pregnant, it becomes all the more important to take care of your body to make sure the development of your baby is healthy and you do not develop deficiencies.
When it comes to nutrition for pregnant women, B vitamins, or the vitamin B complex, hold particular importance. Specifically, vitamin B6, B9 (folic acid) and B12 are known to help with pregnancy symptoms and reduce the risk of birth defects.
Taking prenatal vitamins is important as it assures that your baby and you are getting the required vitamins for a healthy pregnancy. Having said that, vitamins only support a healthy diet, they do not replace one.
All eight vitamin B complex play an important role in your health and strength while your baby develops.
While it can be found in supplements, it is still desirable to get these nutrients from vitamin-rich foods.
Foods rich in Vitamin B provide nourishing nutrients for your developing baby and boost your natural energy, but extra folic acid as a supplement is recommended three to four months before pregnancy until the first trimester.
Vitamin B-1: Thiamine
This vitamin B complex plays an important role in the development of the baby's brain.
Around 1.4 milligrams of vitamin B-1 is the recommended daily dosage for pregnant women.
Natural sources of the vitamin include yeast, brown rice, whole grain pasta and pork.
Vitamin B-2: Riboflavin
Since vitamin V-2 is water-soluble, the body does not store it, which is why you need to replace it through prenatal vitamins or your diet.
Riboflavin is important for the health of your eyes and skin.
Around 1.4 milligrams of vitamin B-2 is the recommended daily dosage for pregnant women.
Some common sources of the vitamin are turkey, chicken, fish, green vegetables, dairy products and eggs.
Vitamin B-3: Niacin
This vitamin improves your nutrient metabolism and digestion.
Eighteen milligrams of vitamin B-3 is the recommended daily dosage for pregnant women.
Vitamin B-5: Pantothenic acid
This vitamin is helpful with leg cramps and also helps in creating hormones.
Six milligrams of vitamin B-5 is the recommended daily dosage for pregnant women.
Vitamin B-6: Pyridoxine
It plays an important role in the development of the brain and nervous system of your baby.
Vitamin B-6 also plays a role in the production of two vital neurotransmitters -- serotonin and norepinephrine.
Natural sources of pyridoxine include bananas, whole grain cereals, beans and nuts.
Vitamin B-7: Biotin
Around 30 mcg of vitamin B-1 is the recommended daily dosage for pregnant women.
Biotin deficiency can occur during pregnancy, so you need to make sure you get enough of it.
Natural sources of biotin include egg yolk, liver, Swiss chard, yeast and milk.
Vitamin B-9: Folic acid
It is perhaps the most important vitamin B for pregnant women.
Four hundred mcg of vitamin B-1 is the recommended daily dosage during and after pregnancy.
Food sources include grapefruit, oranges, broccoli and green, leafy vegetables like spinach. Asparagus is a good source too.
Vitamin B-12: Cobalamin
It helps maintain your nervous system.
Pregnant women are advised to take around 2.6 mcg of cobalamin per day.
Fish, poultry, and milk are good sources of Vitamin B-12.