Activate your pregnancy

Activated nutrients - how to get the best for you and baby.

The word 'activated' has been bandied around the health world for a while now, (activated almonds, anyone?!) but how exactly do “biologically active” nutrients benefit pregnancy?

Health Bird spoke to BioCeuticals dietitian and nutritionist and mum, Belinda Reynolds, about vitamins and their active counterparts...

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There's a particular buzz right now about activated B vitamins

•   Vitamin B2 - riboflavin sodium phosphate

•   Vitamin B6 - pyridoxal-5-phosphate

•   Vitamin B9 or folate - folinic acid or 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (also known as 5-MTHF or MTHF)

•   Vitamin B12 - mecobalamin (also known as methylcobalamin or methyl-B12)

•   Coenzyme Q10 - ubiquinol

These vitamins exist in foods and supplements in many different forms. When you consume the “inactive” vitamin, your body has to work harder to convert that nutrient into the “active” form so it can function and support your health.

These activation steps often require other nutrients, certain enzymes and the absence of specific imbalances. For example, as a mama to be, when you take folic acid (the inactive, synthetic form of folate), there are multiple reactions that take place to convert it to 5-MTHF (“active” folate), and these steps need healthy levels of active vitamin B6, vitamin B2 and amino acids, while active vitamin B12 is needed for active folate to then carry out its roles.

Sound like a whole lot of B.S? It's not.

If you are low in any of these supportive nutrients, or have inflammation in your body or any genetic variations that prevent the enzymes involved in these steps functioning at their peak, then the benefits you can expect for you and your babe may be reduced.

Most mums to be know about the importance of folate, so they might take a folic acid supplement or consume foods fortified with folic acid (e.g. processed breakfast cereals). Folate is involved in supporting many functions in the body, including DNA health, brain, nervous system and mood health, and immune and liver function just to name a few. But because folic acid is a synthetic, non-active form of folate, simply consuming more folic acid without supporting its use with good nutrition can mean that you don’t achieve the full benefit that you would otherwise. That's when the active 5-MTHF or folinic acid form is a more desirable option, as it's supporting the folate’s function a little more efficiently without the extra nutrients mentioned earlier. In addition, it can also be a good idea to take the other supportive B vitamins together with folate as part of a pregnancy multivitamin, rather than just a single supplement on its own (unless of course you have been recommended otherwise by your healthcare practitioner).

It's vital to remember too that healthy foods such as green leafy vegetables provide active forms of nutrients. To continually support each other during pregnancy, opt for a diverse diet providing many different coloured vegetables and fruits, plus raw nuts, seeds, wholegrains, legumes and lean protein.