B Vitamins and Fertility
A guest post by Krystyna Necki
Vitamin B has well-documented importance for fertility, pregnancy and overall health. Vitamin B can be obtained from daily diet together with other vitamins, proteins and minerals that are necessary for the body to be healthy. B vitamins are essential when trying to conceive, especially after quitting oral contraceptives. A review of multiple studies shows that birth control pills deplete vitamin B in the body.
There are different types of B vitamins, which include B12, B9 (folic acid and folate), B7 (biotin), B6 (pyridoxine), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B2 (riboflavin) and B1 (thiamin). All vitamin B types are essential and have different roles ranging from releasing energy from carbohydrates and fats to transporting enough oxygen, energy and nutrients to various body tissues. Having the appropriate levels of B vitamins is also essential for proper nerve functioning and for cell energy.
B Vitamins and their Role in the Body
Vitamin B-12 prevents a deficiency that causes anemia and other blood-related diseases related to low blood cell count and low hemoglobin – both are essential for delivering oxygen to cells throughout the body. B-7 helps break down the fats and processes glucose and proteins. B-5 has several functions in the body, but its main purpose is to assist in releasing energy from the food as well as releasing the primary stress hormone – cortisol. It also prevents pregnancy-related muscle cramps.
Vitamin B-3 can be in two forms, nicotinic and nicotinamide acid. It ensures that the nervous system is healthy, it lowers LDL cholesterol and improves brain function and promotes healthy skin. Also, it helps the body to release the energy stored in food.
B-2 has three functions in the body: it maintains the energy’s supply, and breaks down carbohydrates, fats and proteins, as well as helps to transform carbohydrates into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is what the body uses for fuel.
Vitamin B-1 ensures that the nervous system is healthy and it is also in charge of food breakdown for energy. Additionally, it helps in the development of a baby’s brain during pregnancy.
Vitamin B-9 and B-6 play an essential role in fertility and pregnancy. According to research, vitamin B-6 has been proven to be very effective when it comes to fertility. Several studies have shown that women with a high level of B-6 in their blood stand a high chance of being fertile compared to those with low levels. Vitamin B-6 helps to prevent high levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine have been associated with the increased chance of developing heart diseases, ovulation problems, miscarriage and blood clots. The homocysteine level can be reduced by using different supplements such as B-12, folate and B-6 supplements. This claim was proven in a 2017 study of women with pregnancy loss history due to high homocysteine and were given these supplements to lower the level.
Vitamin B-9 has also been related to fertility issues and it has been claimed as the best vitamin for healthy fetal development and fertility. It is essential for male and female fertility. Low levels of vitamin B-9 can increase fertility problems such as irregular ovulation and neural tube defects during pregnancy. According to research, men with low folate have great damage to their sperm’s DNA. Research shows that semen health can be improved by using folate supplements. Vitamin B-9 contains two components: folate, and folic acid. Folate is a readily available form of B-9 that is obtained from supplements of folic acid. When folic acid is absorbed by the body, it is being transformed into folate. It is commonly consumed naturally from foods such as dark leafy greens, broccoli, lentils, asparagus, and chickpeas. When supplementing, the most preferred and approved supplement is the 5-methyltetrahydrofolate or 5-MTHF because of its ability to convert easily into an active form.
The best food that contains B Vitamins
Various foods are rich in vitamin B that can help improve general health and boost fertility and the ability to maintain a healthy pregnancy.
Meat (Chicken, Meat organs, Pork and Beef)
Meat organs such as the liver are packed with a high level of B vitamins. Chicken contains high B-6 and B-3 as well as a great source of other B vitamins. Beef has a high amount of B-12, B-6, and B-3. Pork is rich in B vitamins such as B6, B3, B2, and B1.
Salmon is a type of nutritious fish that contains all B vitamins and is also very low in mercury. It contains approximately 18% of B1, 29% of B2, 50% of B3, 19% of B5, 47% of B-6 and 51% of B-12.
Leafy greens are high in B-9 vitamins, especially collards, romaine lettuce, spinach, and turnip. They are also a rich source of folate that is good for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
Milk is high in biotin, B-6, riboflavin, B5, niacin, B-12, and thiamin. It is not recommended to consume a large amount of milk because it may elevate estrogen levels in the body. Organic, grass-fed sources without added hormones are always best.
Whole grains such as barley and brown rice are rich in folate, riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin. Folate is essential during conception and achieving a healthy pregnancy.
Fruits (Bananas, Oranges)
Oranges produce citrus that contains folate, pantothenic acid, niacin, thiamin, B-6, and thiamin. Bananas are rich in B-6, niacin, thiamin, folate, riboflavin, and thiamin.
Oysters, Mussels and Clams
They are a good source of all B vitamins and rich in vitamin B-12 and riboflavin. Additionally, they are rich in iron, manganese, zinc, omega-3 fats and selenium.
To Keep in Mind
Vitamin B is significant to general health, fertility, and pregnancy. B vitamins are vital to both males and females, especially when trying to improve their fertility and achieving a healthy pregnancy. Significantly, vitamins B-6 and B-9 have been proven to play a big part when it comes to healthy pregnancy and fertility. B vitamins can be obtained naturally from food or through supplementation.
Bellows L, et al. (2012). Water-soluble vitamins: B-complex and vitamin C. extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/water-soluble-vitamins-b-complex-and-vitamin-c-9-312/
Gao Y, et al. (2016). New perspective on impact of folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on neurodevelopment/autism in the offspring children — A systematic review. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165626
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2016). Vitamin deficiency anemia. mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitamin-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20355025
Krystyna Necki is a Certified Cognitive-Behavioral Coach and researcher who specializes in women’s fertility. She holds MS in Organization Development & Leadership and has a background in medical and psychological research. She is the founder of “Compassion Buddy” where she constantly publishes her articles and research. Krystyna has struggled from infertility for twenty years but found a way out to bring her fertility journey with positive attitude, self-compassion, and acceptance. Now, she is passionate about helping women on their fertility journey, providing tips on nutrition, exercise, and mental health. For more, visit https://compassionbuddy.com/
Photo Credit: Unsplash, Angel Sinigersky