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Vitamin -B6, also known as pyridoxine, has many essential functions in the body. As with most nutrients, B-6 requirements are increased during pregnancy and lactation. It is not difficult to meet B-6 requirements from dietary sources. Most prenatal supplements also contain 100% of the FDA's recommended Daily Value, or DV, for B-6.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is needed for over 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism 1. It is essential for red blood cell metabolism; B-6 deficiency can lead to a form of anemia similar to iron deficiency anemia. For the immune system, B-6 helps maintain the health of organs that make white blood cells; B-6 deficiency can decrease antibody production and suppress immune response. B-6 also aids in nervous system function, the conversion of tryptophan to niacin, and maintaining normal blood glucose levels.
B-6 During Pregnancy
According to the Institute of Medicine, the requirement for vitamin B-6 during pregnancy is 1.9 milligrams daily; during lactation, 2.0 milligrams daily. This compares to a recommendation of 1.3 milligrams daily for females aged 19 to 30 years. On food labels, the %DV is based on 2.0 milligrams per day. While breastfeeding, do not take more than 2 milligrams daily in supplement form, as not enough is known about the safety of higher doses.
One of the easiest ways you can meet the B-6 recommendation from food is to eat a fortified cereal for breakfast or as a snack—a three-quarter cup serving of many fortified cereals provides 100 percent of the DV for B6. Check the label, though, as amounts vary. You can get 50 percent of the DV by eating a half-fillet of salmon or halibut. A medium baked potato with the skin and a medium banana each provide 35 percent of the DV, while a half-cup of canned garbanzo beans contain 30 percent of the DV. A chicken breast provides 25 percent of the DV. A packet of fortified instant oatmeal or 3 ounce pork loin contains 20 percent of the DV. -
B-6 in Prenatal Supplements
Most prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements contain vitamin B-6 1. The amount ranges from 2 milligrams to 20 milligrams. The American Pregnancy Association cautions against taking more than the Recommended Daily Allowance of any nutrient during pregnancy unless under the direction of your health care provider.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists considers B-6, or pyridoxine, a first-line treatment for morning sickness, or nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy 3. According to the NIH’s National Library of Medicine (NLM), B-6 may be more effective in improving symptoms of severe nausea than mild to moderate nausea 4. The dosage for nausea and vomiting is much higher than the DV—10 to 25 milligrams three or four times a day. The NLM cautions that this dosage should only be taken with your doctor’s supervision—the long-term use of high doses may cause brain and nerve problems and high doses can cause newborns to have seizures.
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