Folic Acid and Pregnancy
Folic acid is needed by every cell in the body for normal growth and development. It is used to make the extra blood that the body needs during pregnancy. All women of childbearing age should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily before and during pregnancy. Folic acid reduces your baby’s risk of neural birth defects.
When should I start taking folic acid ?
It is recommended that you start taking folic acid before getting pregnant even if you are not trying to conceive. Neural tube defects occurs during the first 28 days of pregnancy even before a woman realizes she is pregnant. You start taking folic aid immediately you notice you are pregnant if you haven’t already started taking it. This is to reduce your chances of birth defects during the first three months.
How can I get folic acid ?
You can folic acid through multivitamins before pregnancy. Most multivitamins contain 400 micrograms of folic acid but be sure to check the label first.
During pregnancy, the prenatal vitamin you take has 600 micrograms of folic acid . Your doctor may prescribe prenatal vitamins or you can get it over the counter. Some women who have had pregnancy affected by neural tube defects or women with sickle-cell disease may need more folic acid. Consult your doctor to make sure you are getting the right amount.
Can I get folic acid from foods ?
Yes, you can get folic acid from food. Food that are labeled as fortified or enriched have folic acid in them. These foods include bread, cereal , pasta and some flour.
Folic acid can be found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, in which case it is known as folate. Some foods that are good sources of folate include the following :
- leafy greens such as spinach
- citrus fruits such as orange
- beans like pinto beans and black beans
It is difficult to get your required amount of folic acid from food so it is essential to take your vitamins daily too.
What are the benefits of folic acid ?
Folic acid reduces your risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It also plays an important role in helping your body make red blood cells which carries oxygen from the lungs all parts of the body. Folic acid is also known to prevent heart disease.
Folic acid and pregnancy. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/baby/folic-acid-and-pregnancy. Accessed December 2, 2014
Folic acid. March of Dimes.http://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/take-folic-acid-before-youre-pregnant.aspx. Accessed December 2, 2014