A severe vitamin B-12 deficiency may have disastrous consequences in pregnancy. It may increase the risk of miscarriage and preterm birth or may cause neural tube defects in the unborn baby. Vitamin B-12 injections can treat a deficiency and prevent these effects from occurring. Although these injections are considered safe during pregnancy, talk to your doctor if you have any specific questions or concerns.
Vitamin B-12 does not have a tolerable upper intake level. This means that you are unlikely to experience negative side effects from the vitamin, even when you take large amounts of it. Because of this, vitamin B-12 injections are safe during pregnancy. In fact, if you are deficient in the vitamin, it may be riskier not to get this extra supplementation. If you have specific questions or concerns about getting these injections during pregnancy, talk to your obstetrician.
While it is true that pregnant women need increased amounts of vitamin B-12 during pregnancy, most get enough of the vitamin from their diet and their prenatal vitamin and do not need additional supplementation or injections. Vitamin B-12 supplements may be recommended for women who have highly restricted diets. Injections are typically recommended when someone is unable to properly absorb the vitamin through food or supplements or when a deficiency is already present. Healthy pregnant women with an average diet can prevent the need for extra supplementation or injections by ensuring they get the appropriate amount of the vitamin on a regular basis.
Vitamin B-12 During Pregnancy
Most healthy pregnant women should get at least 2.6 mcg of vitamin B-12 each day. Since many prenatal vitamins contain between 2.2 to 12 mcg of vitamin B-12, according to the Cleveland Clinic, you may be able to meet most or all of your vitamin B-12 needs by simply remembering to take your prenatal vitamin. However, a healthy diet is also important. Food sources of vitamin B-12 include rainbow trout, sockeye salmon, liver, clams and fortified cereals. If you are struggling to get enough vitamin B-12 or if you have a medical condition that may interfere with your vitamin absorption, talk to your doctor about other ways you can prevent a deficiency.
Many women have heard about the importance of folic acid while trying to conceive and during pregnancy. While it is true that folic acid may prevent certain birth defects, large doses of folic acid may also mask a vitamin B-12 deficiency. Talk to your doctor if you have been taking large doses of folic acid and have risk factors for a vitamin B-12 deficiency. She may recommend blood work to determine if you are deficient and are in need of vitamin B-12 injections.
- eMed TV; Vitamin B-12 and Pregnancy; Kristi Monson, PharmD and Arthur Schoenstadt, M.D.; October 2008
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B-12
- Institute of Medicine: Daily Recommended Intake of Vitamins
- Cleveland Clinic; Prenatal Vitamins; December 2009
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Folic Acid and Prevention of Spina Bifida and Anencephaly; J. David Erickson; August 2002