As soon as women enter childbearing age, we hear about the importance of folic acid. Folic acid is vitamin B9 and is extremely important to the development of a fetus. Although folic acid is important, there are a whole plethora of b-vitamins and adequate amounts account for many of our metabolic processes.
There is more published research on the importance of all of the B vitamins for women’s health. Scientists have uncovered a link to vitamin-b deficiencies and postpartum depression.
Recently, I had a few days where I felt depression creep in. I was recovering from a cold and could not quite get my mind back in gear. After one night of adding an additional b-complex vitamin, I felt back to normal.
- B1, Thiamine is the B that helps convert carbs to energy. B1 supports our nervous, cardiovascular, and muscular system as well as brain development. B vitamins are easily depleted when a diet is high in carbs and sugar. 1.4 mg is suggested for adequate levels.
- B2, Riboflavin is essential for proper eye health and skin repair. It also is required to absorb iron, so proper levels can prevent anemia. The body will not store B2 because it is water soluble. For a pregnant mama, adequate levels of B2 can reduce the risk of preeclampsia and supports proper development of baby’s bones, muscles, and nerves. 1.4 mg is required during pregnancy.
- B3 is important for the health of our adrenal glands. Our adrenals control cortisol production– the stress hormone. B3 also helps remove inflammation and chronic inflammation is the root of many health issues.
- B5 is required for wound healing. This is important during pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.
- B6, Pyridoxine is important for support the of brain and nervous system as well as the metabolism of protein and carbs. B6 deficiency is being studied as a possible root of anxiety and panic disorders. It is a vitamin responsible for regulating sleep and supporting adequate production of seratonin and dopamine. B6 is synthesized in the hemoglobin. B6 is often suggested to prevent or help with morning sickness. It is known to reduce nausea and vomiting due to its role in protein/carb metabolism. 1.9 mg during pregnancy and 2.0 for breastfeeding mamas.
- B9, folic acid assists in cell reproduction and helps prevent neural tube defects. Folate is also water soluble and we do not store any additional reserves in our bodies. That is why it is so important to supplement this vitamin preconception and during pregnancy.
- B12 is important in preventing neural tube defects. This vitamin is essential for making DNA, our genetic material. It is responsible for the growth of new nerve cells and helps us have adequate energy levels and feelings of happiness! 2.5 mcg is the suggested dose.
Many foods provide us with b-vitamins. Dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, asparagus, etc. It is difficult to receive all we require through diet alone. Cooking processes, the way our food is grown, fertilized, and processed plays a role in whether or not we will receive enough nutrients from the food alone.
Fortified foods and synthetic folic acid needs to be converted to 5-MTHF (aka methylfolate) to be metabolized in our body. The way the body metabolizes synthetic supplements is a strange chemical reaction that can actually cause toxicity. This is especially common in folks with the MTHFR gene mutation.
Having proper levels of b-vitamins can change our genetic predispositions and help reduce deficiencies we inherit from our maternal lineage, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and other metabolic disorders. Repairing our DNA is quite profound. Just because we are predisposed does not mean we are doomed, and we can prevent issues for future generations!