When I was pregnant, I had horrible morning sickness and was willing to try anything to stop the puking, including supplementation with vitamin B6.
B6 lozenges? For a few days I ate a dozen of them. Motion sickness bands? I tried them for 24-hours before ripping them off while running to the toilet. Ginger candy, while delicious, was not effective. In the end, I didn’t stick with any of it, because beyond some wishful thinking, none of it worked. I soldiered on to 20 weeks with varying degrees of nausea the entire time. It was the most difficult thing about my pregnancy by far.
Now that I’ve made it my mission to research vitamins, and supplements in general, their safety, and their effectiveness, while finding real food ways to make our meals our multivitamins, through the 90-Day No Supplement Challenge, I realize it’s no wonder B6 didn’t work for me. There’s no conclusive evidence to support excessive B6 supplementation to combat nausea. Furthermore, no long term studies have been done to assess the health of offspring who’s mothers supplemented with additional B6.
Overall, it appears that supplementation with B6 for nausea in pregnancy provides little, if any, relief of symptoms according to recent research.
One review of available research on B6 as recent as this month, concludes that, “There is not enough evidence to detect clinical benefits of vitamin B6 supplementation in pregnancy and/or labour other than one trial suggesting protection against dental decay. Future trials assessing this and other outcomes such as orofacial clefts, cardiovascular malformations, neurological development, preterm birth, pre-eclampsia and adverse events are required.”
A review of available research in March 2014 found that “There was only limited evidence from trials to support the use of pharmacological agents including vitamin B6, and anti-emetic drugs to relieve mild or moderate nausea and vomiting. There was little information on maternal and fetal adverse outcomes and on psychological, social or economic outcomes.”
In 2012, an experimental study was conducted on B6 supplementation and nausea, the results: “Although the high-supplementation group had a greater decrease in Pregnancy-Unique Quantification of Emesis and Nausea score in comparison to the low-supplementation group, the difference is unlikely to affect the severity of symptoms.”
And regarding fetal health and safety:
A July 2012 systematic review of current research on B vitamins and pregnancy found that, “Effects of vitamin B6…. on other neonatal outcomes, including preterm birth, low birthweight, and perinatal morbidity and mortality, were not significant. Data on child health outcomes were lacking.”
Just like thousands of other pregnant women before me, I wanted B6 to work so badly. But it just didn’t. I puked almost every day until week 16, and was extremely nauseous until week 20. My concern is that OB doctors everywhere are continuing to recommend B6 to their pregnant, nauseous patients without an adequate understanding of how B vitamins may effect fetal development. The “can’t hurt” attitude about supplementation during pregnancy truly frightens me. Why? It’s very possible that excess B vitamins, and even multivitamins, could have harmful effects on a developing fetus, and potentially result in early fetal death. As always, I emphasis that that’s just one study, just one look at the very complex issue of micro-nutrient supplementation and how it effect the gestating human. But still. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if even one study links supplement use to increased cancer and death rates, is it really worth it to take them at all? Especially when even Walmart carries organic produce?
Food – The best and safest way to get B6!
Since B6, or pyrodixine, is one of the methyl vitamins, overdoing it with too much, particularly from synthetic or supplemental sources, could potentially interfere with the natural methylation of the cells. Bombarding our bodies with concentrated, artificial versions of B6 could have long-term implications science isn’t aware of yet. I’ll talk more about methylation in a future post. But in the meantime, you can read about methylation here.
Good REAL FOOD sources of B6 include organ meats, whole-grain products, vegetables, and nuts. One of the best vegetarian, vegan sources of B6 out there are sunflower seeds. I love these crunchy little yum babies! They’re great as a snack, but my absolute favorite way to eat them is on a salad. Check out this Sunflower Summer Salad Recipe. It’s the ultimate way to make your meal your multivitamin. And the beauty of getting your B6 from food, rather than supplements, is that you’ll also get other healthy nutrients and amino acids, while allowing the body to utilize, safely process, and excrete unneeded B6 in synergy, because your B6 enters your body as it’s meant to, via good, old-fashioned, wholesome food.
- 1.5 cups of mixed organic greens with Spinach
- ¼ cup Sunflower Seeds
- 1 piece of chopped nitrate-free, organic bacon
- ¼ cup Feta Cheese
- 1 Mandarin Orange
- ½ Avocado
- Layer it all in a mason jar or put it in a bowl!
Interested in reading more about the 90-Day No Supplement Challenge and what got me started on this No Supplements, No Excuses kick in the first place? Check this out.