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Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in pregnancy and breastfeeding 

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Chapter:
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) in pregnancy and breastfeeding
Author(s):

Sir Peter Gluckman

, Mark Hanson

, Chong Yap Seng

, and Anne Bardsley

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198722700.003.0013
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date: 20 August 2019

Vitamin B12 is required for the synthesis of fatty acids and myelin and so is crucial for normal neurological function and maintenance of the CNS. In conjunction with folate, it is involved in red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis, and in embryogenesis, it is important for proper neural tube formation and brain development. Maternal intake during pregnancy is important, as only newly absorbed vitamin B12, and not that stored in the maternal liver, is concentrated in the placenta. Despite the active transfer during pregnancy, the vitamin B12 content in the newborn is low, and the infant is dependent on breast milk for ongoing needs. Pregnant and lactating women should ensure that their diet contains sufficient (animal) sources of vitamin B12; those consuming vegan or strict vegetarian diets should either take vitamin B12 supplements or seek foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12.

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