A new Australian study has found that being deficient in vitamin B3 (niacin) when pregnant not only greatly increases the risk of miscarrying, but also renders the baby susceptible to developing birth defects.
The research team at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, state that most birth defects arise out of low levels of the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) enzyme, which helps assist the development of organs in the womb.
They conducted an investigation on the effects of niacin on developing rodent embryos and found that before the vitamin was introduced into the mothers’ diets, the embryos were either miscarried or the babies were born with defects. However, when niacin was introduced, these problems were ultimately prevented.
Another study found that women who take vitamin supplements when pregnant still have insufficient levels of vitamin B3, suggesting that relying on vitamins supplements alone has very little health benefits.
Luckily, increasing your vitamin B3 levels is really easy. In fact, if you’re Australian, chances are you won’t have to worry too much about being deficient, as our famous Vegemite spread, fiercely loved and present in almost every Aussie household, contains an extremely high niacin content.
However, if you absolutely cannot stomach Vegemite, fear not. Other foods high in niacin include breakfast cereals (most are fortified with the vitamin), beverage powders like Milo and Ovaltine, chicken breast and peanuts. Most foods high in protein, like meats and nut butters, tend to be naturally high in niacin as well