The Role of B Vitamins During Pregnancy [transcript][audio]

Guest: Belinda Reynolds  

Presenter: Neal Howard

Guest Bio: Belinda is a BioCeuticals educator, nutritionist and dietician and graduated with a degree in 2003. She has been involved in the complementary medicine industry for nearly 15 years – 10 of these working for BioCeuticals as a Practitioner Sales Consultant, Team Leader, Presenter, Educator and Writer, with an involvement in Marketing and Product Development.  

Segment overview: Belinda Reynolds, a BioCeuticals dietitian, discusses the role of B vitamins and activated nutrients during pregnancy.  

Transcript

Neal Howard: Welcome to the program. Thank you so much for tuning in to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. Glad that you’re here. Our guest is returning guest as a regular contributor here on Health Professional Radio, Belinda Reynolds, Dietitian, Nutritionist and Education Manager at BioCeuticals. And she’s joining us here to discuss the role of B vitamins and activated nutrients during pregnancy. Welcome back to the program Belinda.

Belinda Reynolds: Thank you. Great to be here.

N: How have you been?

B: I’ve been really well. Thank you.

N: Good, lots of new developments in the world of B vitamins and as those vitamins relate to a better pregnancy outcome for both mom and baby, right?

B: That’s right. So there has been some new evidence that’s emerged to understand better the role that vitamin B3 can play in preventing miscarriages in certain women and also certain malformations as well in babies. So it’s a really exciting finding and it really does emphasize the fact that although in the past, we’ve focused on the importance of folate for pregnancy, we’re now understanding that it’s never just about one single nutrient. It’s important to be considering a whole variety of different nutrients.

N: What are some of the things that a proper implementation of B vitamins during pregnancy or before pregnancy? What are some of the things that we’re looking to prevent when we implement B vitamins?

B: The different roles that the B vitamins play in the body are absolutely huge. So one of the reasons why folic acid supplementation has often been recommended was due to its role in preventing spinal tube defects, for example. But what we also know is that folate plays a huge number of different roles in the body by supporting a process known as ‘Methylation’ that is essential for a huge variety of different enzymes to function throughout the body and that involves healthy DNA replication which ultimately then is essential for a healthy pregnancy because the mother passes her DNA onto the child and healthy DNA is important for healthy cell division and the development of a healthy fetus during the pregnancy. But in addition to that, only the folate play that role in supporting a healthy DNA. It also plays a role in liver function to help detoxification processes but it also helps with healthy hormone levels. So that’s why it can play a role in fertility. It’s essential in preventing certain mood disorders. It really does have a broad range of functions. And then the thing we also need to understand though is that folate doesn’t act by itself. It works in symphony with a number of other different vitamins as well. So, for example, vitamin B6 and vitamin B2 are essential in helping to activate folate so that it can function in the body and then vitamin B12 is necessary to support folate in actually doing its job once it’s activated. A big thing that I feel that it’s important to promote is that it’s not just about taking a folate supplement, it’s about looking at all of the different B vitamins and all of the other essential minerals and vitamins that the body needs, but really, encouraging a healthy diet that really helps to provide all of these in that natural form as well.

N: What about bringing awareness of the importance of B3 vitamins during pregnancy? Is this something that is widely known among pregnant women there in Australia or around the world as far as your experience is concerned?

B: I think really the main nutrient that’s understood to be important is folate and we’ve also had the fortification of foods with folic acid which is increasing pregnant women folate intake. But outside of that, there’s not really a great understanding of the other nutrients that are needed for a healthy pregnancy. I think iron people understand is important because your blood volume increases during pregnancy and they’re more likely to be low in iron and so people will often focus on iron supplementation. The need for iodine, the awareness around that is also increasing because now we know that iodine variates role in supporting thyroid gland actually helps with normal healthy brain and help with its development. When it comes to the vitamins, other than B vitamins really I don’t think the awareness is quite there yet. However, this piece of research has come out focusing on the role of these 3 in preventing miscarriages and also preventing other birth defects. The media has really caught on and has run with the story quite a bit and so I think the need for healthy levels of vitamin B3 is becoming something that people are a bit more aware of than what they previously would have thought.

N: Say a woman is planning to get pregnant but she hasn’t been on top of B vitamin intake for her entire life, is this something that she can I guess make up for lost time when it’s time to conceive? And once she does conceive, is it important to keep up that level of B vitamins throughout the rest of her life?

B: Generally to answer that part of the question, if she hasn’t been consuming sufficient B vitamins throughout her life, you certainly can recover or bring those levels of B vitamins up quite quickly. They are in a water-soluble nutrient that you do need to take in every single day to maintain levels so you can rapidly help with restoring your levels. But it is very important to restore those levels of B vitamins prior to conception because a lot of those essential cell division processes happen before a woman even knows that she’s pregnant. So it is really a good idea to be restoring the B vitamin levels prior to pregnancy and maintaining those B vitamin levels throughout the pregnancy also during lactation, but then also for the rest of the life to maintain good health. So understanding the role that the B vitamins play in supporting energy levels in health, helping the blood to be healthy, in helping prevent mood disorders and supporting healthy hormone levels, healthy thyroid function is that there’s a huge variety of different functions that the B vitamins are essential for. And therefore, even if you’re not pregnant, if you’re deficient you’re going to not be experiencing the best health that you could. That’s where supplementation can be important during pregnancy because a lot of women typically aren’t great at consuming the foods that they should see particularly if they’re really nauseous, they contain the B vitamin. For example, one of the best sources of natural folate and B vitamins can be green leafy vegetables and I know in Australia at least 100% of the population are not consuming the recommended amounts of vegetables every day. Nuts, and seeds and eggs and healthy protein sources are also great sources of B vitamins that are encouraged as well. But realistically, for a lot of people, supplementation is often necessary to bring the levels up quite quickly to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

N: Is there any information that suggests that the male should have his levels of B vitamins checked or at least maintained when he and his significant other are planning on a child or does that have any bearing at all on the pregnancy?

B: Yes. I’m glad you asked that actually. So research does show now that up to around 50% of infertility issues within couples relate to the male and the health of the sperm. And there’s a number of different factors that come into play when looking at ensuring their healthy sperm, you want good motility so meaning the sperm can swim properly. You’ll also want good morphology and good sperm count. And morphology relates to the health of the DNA and therefore the ability of that sperm to actually result in a healthy pregnancy. And so the B vitamins certainly come into play there, it supports the health of the DNA within the sperm so that you’ve got a good quality sperm that is able to maintain a healthy pregnancy. But in addition to that, the absence of oxidative stress in the male has been shown to be important so consuming lots of antioxidant nutrients and antioxidant-rich food like bright colored vegetables or fruits. But then for men to other nutrients such as Zinc, Selenium, Coenzyme Q10, have all shown to be really useful for improving sperm count and improving the likelihood of the couple being able to achieve a healthy pregnancy.

N: Now, where can we go and get some more information online about BioCeuticals and activated nutrients during pregnancy?

B: We have a website. The BioCeuticals’ website is www.bioceuticals.com.au. We also have FX Medicine which is a website full of, lots of great information. There are also podcasts there and you can search the topic pregnancy to find articles and the website for that is fxmedicine.com.au.

N: Always a pleasure Belinda. Thank you so much for coming back and joining us.

B: Thank you for having me. Have a great day.

N: Belinda Reynolds, BioCeuticals’ Dietitian talking about the role of B vitamins and activated nutrients during pregnancy. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm. You can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, listen in and download at SoundCloud and be sure to visit our affiliates page when you visit us at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au.

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