When you’re feeling like absolute rubbish – especially with morning sickness – specificity is key. Drilling into the B vitamin family, vitamin B6 is a superstar of the pregnancy nausea tool kit, and studies show that it can help ease symptoms, when used at the right dosage.
Partnering with Viridian Nutrition, we’re unpacking the what, when, how and why of vitamin B6 for pregnancy nausea – including:
- An intro to B vitamins and morning sickness
- Why vitamin B6 might help
- Dosage support
- Side effects & safety in pregnancy
- What are the alternatives? (& the ginger vs vitamin B6 debate)
- Top tips for managing morning sickness
Jenny Carson, MRES, BSc (Hons) is a Consultant Nutritionist at Viridian Nutrition. With over eight years’ experience supporting people with nutritional health advice, Jenny has completed a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health, giving her a wide understanding of public health nutrition.
Working with the purest ingredients, Viridian supplements are formulated by expert nutritionists and contain 100% active ingredients – products that work with your body for dynamic impact. Head to their pregnancy collection which includes a pregnancy multivitamin featuring vitamin B6, plus our favourite organic ginger supplement for additional morning sickness support.
We wanted to know, is vitamin B6 a really effective treatment for morning sickness? And if so, where should we start? Over to Jenny for the expert 101, and your top questions, answered.
Vitamin B for morning sickness – where do I start?
Morning sickness can be a common symptom during the first trimester of pregnancy. For some, it wears off in the late morning or early afternoon, and for others, it can last all day.
Consequently, it can impact life for several weeks, which for busy mothers-to-be can take them out of action. It’s no surprise, really, that everyone is pretty desperate for a solution.
A member of the B vitamin family, vitamin B6 – otherwise known as pyridoxine – has been shown to be useful for morning sickness. Vitamin B6 is omnipresent in foods and easily found in B complex or multivitamin and mineral food supplements. It may provide a useful and pretty easy-to-access solution to morning sickness, but let’s take a closer look at what the science shows, to help you make an informed decision.
B vitamins, unpacked
B vitamins – a blanket term for 10 individual nutrients – naturally exist in food in various forms, and each one is easily absorbed and utilised. B vitamins play a variety of roles which include assisting in functions of the brain, thyroid, and cardiovascular system, plus they help us create energy from food, cope with stress, and support mood.
And a bit about morning sickness
It’s thought that hormonal and blood pressure changes in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy are contributors to the onset of morning sickness. If symptoms become severe, an antiemetic (medication to prevent nausea and vomiting) may be prescribed.
With morning sickness, potential health risks include dehydration and the inability to get enough nutritional intake. This can lead to malnutrition, which can affect both your health (maternal) and your baby’s (foetal health).
Why might vitamin B6 help?
Research suggests that for mild to moderate morning sickness – and as a natural option – vitamin B6 may fit the bill. In fact, in the USA, Canada and Australia, vitamin B6 is officially recommended as a treatment.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) reviewed the research and concluded that there is moderate evidence that vitamin B6 shows a clinically favourable outcome when compared to placebo, for managing morning sickness.
In short-term comparison studies vitamin B6 has performed comparably to ginger in the relief of nausea associated with pregnancy. However, in studies that ran for 60 days or more, vitamin B6 was more effective.
B6 mechanism of action
We don’t know how B6 works in alleviating morning sickness, but it is not linked to a deficiency of this vitamin. A group of prenatal women had their vitamin B6 status tested and there was no relationship between morning sickness incidence and B6 levels.
Given that vitamin B6 plays a role in hormone production, it could be that additional B6 regulates the shift in hormones (and resulting blood pressure changes) which contribute to morning sickness.
How much B6?
This is where it becomes a little tricky, as the maximum amount of B6 that can be used daily in UK and EU-manufactured food supplements is 12.5 mg.
This is due to larger quantities being associated with reversible neuralgia, namely tingling in the fingers and toes. Despite the sensation being reversible once supplementation has stopped, it is not advisable for pregnant or breastfeeding women to supplement with large quantities.
Therefore, a quality pregnancy multivitamin that provides closer to the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6 should be helpful.
What are the alternatives?
Research has investigated various botanicals and herbs to address morning sickness – one of the most credible is ginger. I often suggest taking a capsule of ginger – in food supplement form – before going to bed as a management technique, plus one as soon as you wake up.
Ginger has been shown to contribute to normal functioning of the stomach in early pregnancy, making it an ideal first trimester toolkit staple for expectant mums. Additionally, ginger can support the body during breastfeeding and lactation.
Try Viridian’s Organic Ginger supplement – these capsules contain ginger root powder which is the most active form. The organic status ensures the ginger root is sustainably sourced, too, whilst preserving the natural environment.
Alongside, lemon has been shown to be useful, so sipping lemon and ginger tea provides another go-to option. Other beneficial botanicals, but less so than ginger, include chamomile and peppermint, both advisable as tea.
My top morning sickness tips
Alongside either vitamin B6 or ginger there are several lifestyle hacks that can make morning sickness a little easier to manage. Here are my go-to suggestions for beating the nausea:
- If you’re able to eat, keep food plain, odourless and small in volume but frequent. Carbohydrate-rich foods digest quickly and are less likely to result in vomiting.
- Drink water and electrolyte minerals regularly during onset of symptoms, to support hydration.
- Get plenty of rest, as tiredness may exacerbate the symptoms. Good sleep hygiene can help – try using black-out blinds, keeping the bedroom cool and free from devices, plus an air filter for really deep, quality sleep.
- Wear loose clothing, so that your abdomen isn’t under pressure.
- If you’re at work and your location triggers sickness (patients often struggle with certain aromas at work, for example), do discuss the situation with your employer or HR team. A temporary solution is usually easy to sort!
Keen to notch up your morning sickness support? Head over to Viridian Nutrition where you can browse their extensive range, read articles and get in touch with their team of qualified nutritionists for personalised advice and recommendations.
Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication.