Nutritional Supplements Reduce Morning Sickness
Women who experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (NVP) may find taking vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), ginger, or a multivitamin will reduce their symptoms, according to a new report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.1
Approximately 35% of all pregnant women have some degree of nausea or vomiting during pregnancy, yet only a small number of these women seek medical help, because many are concerned that treatment might adversely affect their fetuses. However, supplementation with vitamin B6, ginger, or a multivitamin have been shown to be safe, effective treatments for NVP.
Vitamin B6 is one of the more studied nutrients for NVP. Several well-designed studies have shown that vitamin B6 can reduce nausea and vomiting within one week of use. One trial gave pregnant women 75 mg per day of vitamin B6 or a placebo for three days. Women with moderate to severe NVP experienced a significant reduction in symptoms, while women taking placebo experienced no change. However, women with mild NVP did not benefit from vitamin B6. In another, larger study, pregnant women were given 30 mg of vitamin B6 per day or placebo for five days, with similar results. The findings from these studies suggest that 30 to 75 mg per day of oral vitamin B6 may help alleviate symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
Ginger, taken as tea or in capsules, is also a traditional remedy for nausea. Research on ginger has shown that capsules containing ground ginger in the amount of 250 mg, taken four times per day, effectively treats NVP. In one of these trials, 88% of the women taking ginger felt less nauseated, while only 28% of the women taking placebo had any benefit. Ginger tea may also be helpful, although this has yet to be studied in relation to NVP
Taking a daily multivitamin may also reduce the symptoms of NVP. One study examining multivitamin use and the development of birth defects found incidentally that multivitamins decreased nausea and vomiting more than a placebo. The multivitamin contained less than 3 mg of vitamin B6 (much less than the amount used in other studies), which suggests the benefit of the multivitamin was due to other nutrients, or to some combination of nutrients, in the supplement.
The safety of vitamin B6, ginger, and multivitamins during pregnancy has been well-established and these are appropriate therapies for treatment of NVP before considering stronger prescription medications. Before modifying their nutritional programs, pregnant women should consult a doctor.
1. Niebyl JR, Goodwin TM. Overview of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy with an emphasis on vitamins and ginger. Am J Obstet Gynecol 2002;186:S253–S255.
Darin Ingels, ND, MT (ASCP), received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Kenmore, WA. Dr. Ingels is the author of Garlic and Cholesterol: Everything You Need to Know (Prima, 1999) and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol (Prima, 2000). He currently is in private practice in Southport, CT, where he specializes in environmental medicine and allergies. Dr. Ingels is a regular contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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