Folic acid is a type of Vitamin B that is crucial for our health, especially to a woman. If you are trying to get pregnant or already pregnant, you are advised to consume folic acid in your diet. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 70 percent of all neural tube defects (NTDs) could be prevented if every woman of childbearing age took folic acid daily.
In short, taking folic acid before and during pregnancy gives extra protection to our baby from serious birth defects, such as anencephaly and spina bifida.
What are the benefits of Folic Acid?
- Helps to prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida & anencephaly.
- Acts by helping the body produce and maintain new cells.
- Help our baby from developing a heart defect, cleft lip, or cleft palate.
- For a pregnant woman, it helps to support the rapid growth of the placenta and fetus.
- Prevent Autism.
How do I get folic acid?
Folic acid is a form of folate, which occurs naturally in foods, and is available in the synthetic form in vitamin pills. Folic acid can be found in our daily consumptions such as vegetables, nuts, and legumes. However, most moms-to-be don’t eat enough of these foods regularly, which is why taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid is so important.
Natural sources of folate:
It is always a good idea to eat plenty of folate-rich foods, which also contain many other important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Foods that are rich in folates include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Fruits and fruit juices
- Lima beans
- Sunflower seeds
- Wheat germ
- Breakfast cereals
- Enriched grain products such as bread and pasta.
How much folic acid should I consume?
The recommended folic acid pregnancy dose is as follows:
- 400 mcg per day is recommended for women who are trying to conceive.
- 400 mcg per day is recommended during the first three months of pregnancy.
- 600 mcg per day is recommended from the fourth month to the ninth month of pregnancy.
- 500 mcg per day is recommended during the breastfeeding period.
Based on a study from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, it is advisable for future mothers to take folic acid at least a year before conceiving as it may reduce the risk of preterm birth by 50 to 70%.
The bottom line is, taking prenatal vitamins that are packed with folic acid one every day before you get pregnant and during pregnancy can make a huge impact on keeping you and your baby healthy.