B complex deficiency can lead to amenorrhea , scanty periods, delayed menses, painful periods, irregular ovulation, or poor egg quality. All can compromise fertility.
Are you getting sufficient B vitamins through your diet?
If not, this can adversely affect your health, your menstrual cycles, and your fertility.
In this post, I’ll discuss the importance of the eight essential B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) that make up vitamin B complex, and how they relate to your menstrual cycles and fertility, along with the best sources to obtain these essential nutrients.
The Importance of Vitamin B Complex
Healthy blood is important for our health because every cell in the body needs a continuous supply of water, oxygen, energy and building materials.
And blood, pumped by the heart, delivers oxygen and nutrients to the cells and carries carbon dioxide and waste away from them.
Vitamin B complex, among its many important roles, is essential to the healthy functioning of blood.
For example, folate (vitamin B9) and vitamin B12 assist with the formation of new blood cells, and vitamin B6 helps make hemoglobin, the compound that carries oxygen in the blood.
Symptoms of B Complex Deficiency
When the body is deficient of various B vitamins – due to an imbalanced diet or poor absorption as results of certain health conditions – the production and function of blood will be compromised.
And without an adequate supply of clean, nutrient-rich blood, our body will not perform at the optimal level. This includes our reproductive organs, such as ovaries and the uterus.
For example, deficiencies of folate and vitamin B12 are known to cause anemia, producing symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, diarrhea, irritability, forgetfulness, lowered immunity, dizziness and headaches.
A deficiency of B12 can also lead to nerve degeneration, progressing to paralysis if left untreated, due to its role in maintaining nerve cells.
Since vitamin B6 helps make hemoglobin that carries oxygen in the blood, B6 deficiency can also result in anemia and its accompanying general weakness.
And low intakes of these three B vitamins are linked with an increased risk of fatal heart disease due to high levels of the protein-related compound homocysteine, which promotes blood clot formation and damage the arterial wall.
B Complex and Fertility
Because menstrual cycles are closely related to the functioning of blood, a deficiency of B complex can produce various menstrual disharmonies, such as amenorrhea (no menstrual cycles), scanty periods, delayed menses, painful periods, irregular ovulation, or poor egg quality. All can compromise fertility.
And even after conception, poor blood supply can affect a woman’s ability to carry the fetus to term, as well as the healthy development of the embryo/fetus.
For instance, folate deficiency is known to cause a type of birth defect called neural tube defect.
Hence, all women of reproductive age are advised to consume the recommended amount of folate (400 micrograms), because adequate levels of this nutrient must be ingested before and during the first few weeks of pregnancy – the period during which the neural tube of the embryo is closing.
Unfortunately, this is a time when most women are not even aware that they’re pregnant.
Food Sources of B Complex
Of course, the best source of B complex is the food we eat. And nature provides an abundant supply of these vital nutrients in various plants, as well as animals.
Best Food Sources of Folate
Folate can be found is in green leafy vegetables, liver, legumes and seeds, citrus fruits, melons, enriched bread, cereals and grains.
Best Food Sources of B12
B12, on the other hand, is found mostly in animal products: meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, milk, cheese and eggs.
Best Food Sources of B6
B6 can be found in both plant-based and animal-based foods: meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, legumes, fruits, soy products, whole grains, and green leafy vegetable.
B Complex Supplement
As you can see, to get sufficient B vitamins, you need to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains, and animal protein.
Unfortunately, many of these important nutrients (especially folate) are easily lost when foods are overcooked, canned, dehydrated, or otherwise processed.
For this reason, most women typically consume foods that provide only about half the recommended amount of folate. And if you’re a vegetarian, you’re likely to be deficient of B12 as well.
So if you suspect that you’re not getting an adequate amount of B vitamins through the foods you eat, it’s beneficial to take a supplement. And the best way to do so is to take a B complex due to the synergistic effects of the various B vitamins.
And if you’re trying to conceive, I recommend taking a high quality prenatal vitamin that contains B complex. Based on my research, Garden of Life RAW Vitamin Code Prenatal Multivitamin is the best on the market.
I hope you find this post helpful. Stay healthy!