Improving Pregnancy Outcomes with One-Carbon Metabolic Nutrients

  • Julia H. King
  • Sze Ting (Cecilia) Kwan
  • Marie A. Caudill
Part of the Nutrition and Health book series (NH)


Folate, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, and choline—collectively known as one-carbon or methyl nutrients—are involved in many biological processes vital to development, including nucleotide synthesis, methylation reactions, neurotransmitter production, lipid production and transport, and amino acid metabolism. The demand for these nutrients is particularly high during pregnancy, when cells of the placenta and fetus are undergoing rapid division. As such, pregnant women need to consume more of these nutrients to meet their higher requirements. Vegetables, fruits, legumes, and grains are rich sources of folate and vitamin B6, whereas vitamin B12 and choline are found most abundantly in animal products. Fortified foods and prenatal supplements are also an important source of folate, vitamin B12, and B6 for pregnant women. Deficiency of these nutrients is suggested to contribute to preeclampsia, preterm birth, birth defects, fetal growth retardation, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, some of which can significantly affect the long-term health of mothers and their children. Clinicians who work with women of reproductive age should understand the role of these nutrients in fetal development and promote their greater intake to optimize pregnancy outcomes.


Folate Choline Vitamin B12 Vitamin B6 Pregnancy 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julia H. King
    • 1
  • Sze Ting (Cecilia) Kwan
    • 1
  • Marie A. Caudill
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Nutritional SciencesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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