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What Is Vitamin M?

By Jodee Redmond
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Vitamin M is also known as folic acid, folate, and folatin. It appears on the ingredient list in many multi-vitamin products and is added to a number of food products. This vitamin is important to women of childbearing years, since it plays a role in prevention of neural tube defects in a developing fetus. Vitamin M may also help to prevent early miscarriage.

Consumers who are looking for vitamin M on foodstuffs should check the label carefully. It can be found on items containing wheat, including cereals, bread, pasta and crackers. This ingredient may also be found in green leafy vegetables. Good sources of folic acid include lettuce, spinach, broccoli, bananas, and melons.

Other good dietary sources of folic acid include organ meats like beef liver and kidneys. Eating mushrooms and beans can also help to provide the body with vitamin M. Drinking orange or tomato juice gives the body a good source of vitamins C and M, and adding the sunshine vitamin into the mix means the body is able to absorb the folic acid more readily.

Women who are planning to conceive can benefit from taking vitamin M before they start trying to get pregnant. Making an appointment with a physician to discuss reproductive plans and to ask about the recommended dose of folic acid is a good strategy. The level contained in a standard multivitamin may not be high enough to prevent disorders like spina bifida, which occurs when the developing fetus’s spine does not fully close before birth. It’s important to get an adequate amount of folic acid before conception since the baby’s spine will be developed before woman can have her condition confirmed by a doctor.

Since taking folic acid can help to lower the risk of birth defects, taking Vitamin M regularly may play a role in preventing early miscarriage. Many women lose a child in the first weeks of pregnancy and while there may never be a full explanation of why this occurs, a defect in the developing child is the most probable reason.

Eating a balanced diet which includes a number of Vitamin M-rich foods can help increase the likelihood of a woman having a healthy baby. All women who may become pregnant should take steps to ensure they are getting enough of this important nutrient. Consuming it as a supplement, either on its own or in a multivitamin, is a wise strategy.

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Discussion Comments
By OeKc05 — On Feb 20, 2012

@Oceana – My doctor told me to keep taking vitamin M throughout the first trimester of my pregnancy. He said it should help the baby develop healthily, and it would decrease my chances of having a miscarriage.

I was shocked when I found out I could take it while pregnant. Like you, I had been under the impression that all drugs and supplements and everything unnatural had to be avoided during this time.

So, you would actually help your baby if you continued taking vitamin M for a few weeks after you find out you are pregnant. Ask your doctor about the right dosage for you and exactly how long you should take it.

By Oceana — On Feb 20, 2012

Does anyone know if it is safe to take vitamin M after you realize that you are pregnant? I know that any types of medication can hurt a fetus, and you should even avoid things like caffeine while pregnant. Is this also the case with vitamin M?

I am currently taking it, because I hope to have a baby in the near future. However, I don't want to do any damage by continuing to take it once I find out I'm pregnant. Would it hurt or help my baby for me to keep taking folic acid?

By seag47 — On Feb 19, 2012

@wavy58 – I have often wondered how various vitamins get their letters. “M” does seem like a strange one, because we hear a lot more about the vitamins with letters near the beginning of the alphabet.

I do know of another meaning of “vitamin M,” but it isn't folic acid. My brother told me about this one, and it had nothing to do with mothers.

He served in the military back in the late eighties, and doctors were always prescribing the soldiers high doses of motrin for pain. It became so popular in the military that they started calling it “vitamin M!”

Let me know if you find out what the “M” really stands for in this case. You have got me curious now!

By wavy58 — On Feb 18, 2012

I wonder if vitamin M got its name from the word “miscarriage” or “mother?” It just seems like a strange letter for a vitamin.

Though I don't want to have children, I sure do get plenty of vitamin M from my diet. I didn't know this until reading this article, but I eat just about every food source mentioned here! I especially love whole grain breads, spinach, and bananas.

Does anyone know how vitamin M got its name? I am just dying of curiosity over this!

By ElizaBennett — On Feb 18, 2012

@jennythelib - I'm glad you pointed that out about most pregnancies being unplanned. I agree with you that women who are sexually active should consider taking folic acid even if they don't plan to get pregnant, unless they eat a whole lot of spinach and guzzle orange juice like it's going out of style. (Not that you should. Drinking too much juice can mess with your blood sugar and cause weight gain.) My second baby was not exactly unplanned, but definitely showed up *sooner* than I had planned! Fortunately, I was taking one of those vitamins like you mention and so I wasn't worried.

By jennythelib — On Feb 17, 2012

It is worth noting that many, if not most, pregnancies are unplanned. I have no immediate plans to get pregnant, but my doctor told me to take a women's multivitamin (the orange kind). These often have enough folic acid to get you through the first few weeks of pregnancy, but check the label to make sure.

Neural tube defects generally happen in the first days after a fertilized egg implants, when even the most watchful would-be mom doesn't know yet that she's pregnant. So whether you are planning a pregnancy or not, make sure that you are getting enough folic acid. It won't hurt you and could make all the difference in the world to your baby.

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