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Why you need vitamin B6 during pregnancy
Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is vital to your baby's developing brain and nervous system. Vitamin B6 also helps your baby metabolize protein and carbohydrates.
Research shows that extra vitamin B6 may relieve nausea or vomiting for some women during pregnancy, though no one is exactly sure why.
Vitamin B6 also helps your body metabolize protein and carbohydrates and helps form new red blood cells, antibodies, and neurotransmitters.
How much vitamin B6 you need
Pregnant women: 1.9 milligrams (mg) per day
Breastfeeding women: 2.0 mg per day
Nonpregnant women ages 19 to 50: 1.3 mg per day
Food sources of vitamin B6
Nuts, lean meat, and fish are good sources of vitamin B6. Fortified breads and cereals can also be good sources. (Check the labels.)
Here are some other good food sources of vitamin B6:
- one medium russet baked potato (with skin): 0.70 mg
- 3 ounces light turkey meat, cooked: 0.69 mg
- one medium avocado: 0.52 mg
- 3 ounces light chicken meat, cooked (without skin): 0.51 mg
- 1 cup fortified breakfast cereal: 0.5 to 2.5 mg
- 3 ounces wild salmon, cooked: 0.48 to 0.8 mg
- 1 cup spinach, cooked: 0.44 mg
- one medium banana: 0.43 mg
- 1 cup dried plums, pitted: 0.36 mg
- 1 ounce hazelnuts, dry roasted: 0.18 mg
- 6 ounces vegetable juice cocktail: 0.13 mg
(Note that a 3-ounce serving of meat or fish is about the size of a deck of cards.)
Should you take a vitamin B6 supplement?
You should be able to get all you need from a varied diet. Most prenatal vitamins also contain at least 100 percent of the recommended amount.
If you're suffering from morning sickness, check with your healthcare provider before taking additional B6 supplements. She can tell you how much to take. (Don't take more than your provider recommends. Too much may not be safe for you or your developing baby.)
Some high-potency multivitamins contain vitamin B6 in large amounts. But even without taking a supplement you can get too much B6 in your diet if you eat a lot of fortified foods. Read the labels of energy drinks and bars, for example – they sometimes have several times the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for B6. Excessive amounts of vitamin B6 can cause numbness and nerve damage.
The signs of a vitamin B6 deficiency
Inflammation of the tongue, sores or mouth ulcers, depression, and anemia may signal a deficiency. Mild deficiencies are not uncommon, but severe deficiencies are rare.