Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother’s Nutrition during Pregnancy – Part 5 – Vitamin B6 and Iodine

Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother's Nutrition during Pregnancy - Part 5 - Vitamin B6 and Iodine

Vitamin B6 and Iodine

We only know of two other nutrients whose requirements increase by more than 40 percent during pregnancy. Again, we have one vitamin and one mineral: vitamin B6 and iodine.

Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is actually a group of six closely related compounds. This gang of six are coenzymes in over 100 different important metabolic processes, including the creation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters that help you feel good and think fast. B6 is vital for normal brain and muscle function, and is used by the body to help remove unwanted excess metals. Most B6 is stored in muscles, where it can be stored for quite a long time.

Pregnant women need 1.9 mg per day of vitamin B6. Most charts I’ve seen list B6 as occurring primarily in milk, muscle meat and organ meats (liver). It is present in meats, but as with folate, B6 is often destroyed by cooking. Organic milk is a great source! B6 is also present in large amounts in a great many fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fish, poultry, and meats. A baked potato has about 0.7 mg after cooking – the same as a raw banana. A half cup of cooked beans has a bit less, but the same amount as half a cooked chicken breast. A 3 oz serving of pork loin has 0.42 mg, about the same amount as an avocado, a 12 oz glass of tomato juice, or 2 oz of sunflower seeds. A 3 oz serving of roast beef has about 0.32 mg, about the same as 2 oz of walnuts or 1 cup of spinach.

Typical American women get about 1.4 mg per day from their diets, enough for their non-pregnant needs. Increasing a variety of whole foods should do the trick during pregnancy. Moreover, prenatal vitamins contain plenty of B6.

Iodine is a mineral essential for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. This is especially important for developing babies because thyroid hormone regulates the developing brain, heart, kidneys, muscles, and pituitary gland. Mothers also need more for themselves during pregnancy.

Iodine occurs abundantly in foods and plants grown in the sea. Even where the sea is now gone, if the soil is rich in iodine, this iodine makes it into plants grown in that soil, and into the milk of cattle fed those plants. Pregnant women are designed to eat at least some of these foods. Today, iodized salt shows up in so many foods that iodine deficiency in pregnancy is unusual.

Read More from: Eating for Two: A Guide to Mother’s Nutrition during Pregnancy

Eating for Two: Part 1 – Pregnancy A Special Time
Eating for Two: Part 2 – Folate and Iron
Eating for Two: Part 3 – How Much Folate Do You Need?
Eating for Two: Part 4 – The Gift of Iron
Eating for Two: Part 5 – Vitamin B6 and Iodine
Eating for Two Part 6 – Zinc
Eating for Two: Part 7 – Niacin, Riboflavin, Thiamin, Pantothenic Acid, and Omega-3
Eating for Two: Part 8 – Not Found in Most Prenatal Vitamins!
Eating for Two: Part 9 – Calcium!?
Eating for Two: Part 10 – Calories
Eating for Two: Part 11 – Liver
Eating for Two: Part 12 – Chocolate
Eating for Two: Part 13 – Eating for the Future

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.

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