Pregnancy is a precious time, as it leads to the birth of a child that will come into the lives of his or her parents. During this time, the health of the mother and the unborn baby are equally important. Just one aspect is ensuring that the mother is receiving enough vitamin B, in particular, vitamins B6, 7, and 12. These essential vitamins assist in reducing birth defects, as well as lessening some of the symptoms of pregnancy.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet should ideally be enough to ensure that you receive all the benefits of the B-complex vitamins; however, this is not always possible. This is where quality supplements come in, to ensure that you are 100% covered. Therefore, knowing what each of the B vitamins do is important.

Vitamin B1

Vitamin B1 (thiamine) helps in the baby’s brain development. Pregnant women need at least 1.4 mg vitamin B1 daily. Good food sources are:

  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Pork
  • Salmon
  • Dried beans
  • Brazil nuts
  • Yeast
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Fortified cereals and breads.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) helps with good vision, but also to ensure that the skin is healthy and glowing. Pregnant women need at least 1.4 mg vitamin B2 daily. Good sources of this vitamin are:

  • Almonds
  • Carrots
  • Oats
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Yeast
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Whole grains and fortified cereals.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 (niacin) improves digestion, reduces migraines, and eases morning sickness, as well as controlling nausea. The goal is to take in 18 mg of this vitamin daily. Good sources of vitamin B3 are:

  • Chia and sunflower seeds
  • Turkey
  • Brown rice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Peanuts
  • Liver
  • Tahini
  • Meat

Although fish, such as tuna and salmon, are also a good source of B3, they may contain high levels of mercury, which could be harmful for the baby’s development.

Vitamin B5

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) helps to reduce leg cramps, but is also needed to produce pregnancy hormones. 6 mg should be taken daily. Good sources of this vitamin are:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Avocado
  • Oats
  • Wild salmon
  • Sweet potato
  • Fortified cereals
  • Oranges
  • Cauliflower
  • Milk

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps the development of a baby’s brain and nervous system. 50 mg is needed; however, 100 mg should not be exceeded. Good sources of this vitamin are:

  • Chickpeas
  • Garlic
  • Avocados
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Brown rice
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Bananas

Vitamin B7

Vitamin B7 (biotin) deficiency may be caused by the pregnancy itself, therefore supplementation may be needed. 30 mcg, daily, should suffice. Good sources of this vitamin are:

  • Swiss chard
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Mushrooms
  • Cheese
  • Fortified cereals
  • Egg yolk
  • Cauliflower
  • Chicken
  • Wild salmon
  • Potatoes
  • Raspberries

Vitamin B9

Vitamin B9 (folic acid) helps to reduce the risk of birth defects. 400 to 800 mcg should be taken daily, however, 1000 mcg per day should be the limit. Lentils, citrus fruits, especially grapefruit and oranges, are great sources of folic acid, as are dark green vegetables such as broccoli, peas, and kale.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps to maintain the nervous system of the mother-to-be and the unborn baby. 2.6 mg of this vitamin should be taken daily. Good sources of this vitamin are:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Red meat
  • Swiss cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Fortified cereals
  • Shrimp

The Bottom Line

If you take a quality vitamin B-complex supplement, there should be no need to take extra B vitamins. Ideally, a diet should be balanced, as nutrients are better absorbed through natural foods. However, B-complex vitamins are vital for the health and strength of a woman as her baby is developing. During the first and third trimesters, a pregnant woman may feel run-down and tired. However, B-complex vitamins will provide energy as the baby is developing. If problems continue, a doctor should be consulted.

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