Sunday, 3 February 2008

Vegan diet poses greater risk of birth defects

Research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has indicated that sufficient B12 in addition to folic acid is needed in your diet in order to prevent spina bifida says UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown, who specialises in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy. Researcher discovered that mothers with the lowest levels of B12 tripled the risk of spina bifida in their babies.

Vitamin B12 is necessary for the synthesis of red blood cells, the maintenance of the nervous system, and growth and development in children. Deficiency can cause anaemia, Vitamin B12 neuropathy, involving the degeneration of nerve fibres and irreversible neurological damage, can also occur.

This research is especially important for vegans and to a lesser extent vegetarians as they are particularly at risk of a B12 deficiency, as it is exclusively synthesised by bacteria and is found primarily in meat, eggs and dairy products.

According to the Vegan Society, the present consensus is that any B12 present in plant foods is likely to be unavailable to humans and so these foods should not be relied upon as safe sources.

Consequently, I would recommend that anyone following a vegan diet includes foods fortified with vitamin B12, such as breafast cereals and taking a supplement with B12 suitabable for vegetarians and vegans, says Nutritionist Melody Mackeown.

To find out more about Nutritional support during or before your pregnancy, contact UrBod Nutritionist Melody Mackeown Dip.ION (mBANT), specialist in pre-conceptual care, fertility and pregnancy care in the city of London, EC2. I have also written a free e-book on how you can improve your diet during your pregnancy, which can be obtained by clicking on my link.