Morning sickness and vitamin B6, does it actually work, or is it all a myth? The answer to this will all depend on the expert, but there has been a lot of growing momentum over the last few years that the answer to this question is a definitive yes. However, to be totally accurate and to bring light to both sides of this argument, in the vast majority of cases, this condition will resolve itself on its own, and because of this, it has not been universally accepted that it does help it.
However, if you are one of the 75 percent plus of all women that get morning sickness, it can be extremely effective, shows virtually no side effects, and if it does not work, it still adds several benefits to your body as well as your baby, so there is no down side. In fact, it has been recommended by several in the medical community that if you do not take a multi-vitamin and you’re trying to become pregnant, you should immediately start taking one in addition to a vitamin B6 supplement, as this combination may stop morning sickness before it ever starts.
What is it?
The term morning sickness is really not correct, as the technical term is nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. There are some women where this condition is much worse in the morning, but for the vast majority of women, this condition does not subside and can easily last on and off all day long. It is estimated that this condition affects between 70 and 75 percent of all pregnant women during the first trimester. The nine months of pregnancy are divided into three distinct periods of time; the first, second, and third trimester.
The first trimester is considered the time of basic cell differentiation, and it is best defined as the end of the mother’s first perception of fetal movement, which generally occurs around the end of the third month. The second trimester is the period of rapid growth and maturation of the body systems of your baby, and the third trimester is the final stages of fetal growth. Although there can be exceptions where the nausea and vomiting occur as early as four weeks into pregnancy, in most cases, it does not start until the sixth week.
For any woman that has ever had morning sickness, once it does start, it will become much worse over the next thirty days and will usually start to recede or even totally go away by week fourteen, or as the first trimester is coming close to ending. However, there are also several other cases where it can and does extend much further than the fourteen weeks, as well as some cases where it can last throughout your entire pregnancy.
If you are suffering from morning sickness, it does not matter how long it lasts as it can seem like a lifetime even if it is only for a short period.
What causes it?
Morning sickness has been around since the beginning of time, but to this date there is no one answer to what actually causes it, but there are several theories. It is widely held in the medical community that it has no one particular cause, but rather a combination of causes. The first on the list is what is referred to as hCG, or Human chorionic gonadotropin, which is a hormone. This glycoprotein hormone is produced during pregnancy and is made up of the developing embryo once it is conceived and later by part of the placenta. It is not fully understood why it causes nausea, but it considered to be one of the major causes of the sickness and seems to appear at the same time as this hormone is developing. It is also held that if the levels of this hormone are quite high, the nausea and vomiting is more severe.
The hormone estrogen also rises very rapidly during pregnancy, and because of this, it is also on the list of potential causes. However, it is also held in some corners that once you become pregnant, your sense of smell as well as your sensitivity to smell increases, which can very easily trigger your natural gagging reflexes. There are also suggestions that some women may develop a bacteria that can cause nausea, but like the other potential causes, this has never been fully confirmed.
However, the list of potential causes or morning sickness does not end there, as it is also believed that if you are carrying twins, because of the higher levels of hCG, this can also trigger it. It is also believed that in these cases the nausea will be much more severe, but this is also not confirmed, as some women with twins have absolutely no nausea at all. Other theories include potential side effects caused by birth control pills, a history of motion sickness, or if you suffer from migraine headaches, you are much more likely to develop this condition.
So where exactly does vitamin B6 come into play with morning sickness? The answer is just as simple as the cause of this condition; no one fully understands why it helps. Even after years of successful testing, no one still understands exactly why it can help, but it has helped women for over 40 years fight this very challenging condition.
Vitamin B6 plays critical role in the functions of approximately 100 enzymes that catalyze essential chemical reactions in your body. However, this critical vitamin must either be obtained from your diet or it must be supplemented because your body does not synthesize it. Vitamin B6 also plays a huge role in steroid hormones such as estrogen and testosterone and it helps to exert their effects in the body by binding to steroid hormone receptors. It is believed that this process is one of the reasons why it is so effective.
There have also been several tests on this vitamins effectiveness in fighting morning sickness, and just one example occurred at the University of Iowa College of Medicine which was monitored by Jennifer Niebyl, M.D, professor and head of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In this particular test, several pregnant women took 25 milligrams of vitamins B6 every eight hours and all of them showed very impressive results. The women that took this vitamin had significantly less vomiting and nausea as compared to those that took a placebo.
There are also other benefits with vitamin B6 if you monitor the amounts and take it as recommended by your physician; it has absolutely no side effects or does it have any recorded potential birth defects.
It is also a water soluble vitamin, which means that even if the levels are excessive, any excess that your body can not handle will be passed through your urine. However, most of the recommendations will be for 25 milligrams three times a day, and should not exceed the 100 milligram mark.
Are there any real benefits with taking Vitamin B6 during morning sickness? You are the judge, but it is growing in popularity and has no known side effects. It is strongly suggested that if you take it with a multi-vitamin supplement before you become pregnant; you may be in the 25 percent of all women that never experience this very challenging condition.
Niebyl, Jennifer R. (2010). “Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy”. New England Journal of Medicine 363 (16): 1544–1550
Morning Sickness: A Comprehensive Guide to the Causes and Treatments, Nicky Wesson, Vermilion (1997)