Folic acid is necessary for everyone, but it is especially vital during pregnancy since it helps to avoid congenital disabilities. This article will discuss this acid, why it’s vital for pregnant women, and more.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a synthetic version of the B vitamin folate. Supplementing folic acid and consuming foods fortified with folic acids, such as some morning cereals, are two ways to obtain folic acid into one's diet.
Folate aids in the formation of red blood cells and the development of your baby's neural tube into their brain and spinal cord.
Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash
The importance of folic acid for pregnant women
There are a few reasons why folic acid is vital for those who are expecting. Firstly, folate aids the body in the production of healthy new red blood cells.
The oxygen-carrying red blood cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Folate deficiency anaemia can occur if the body does not have enough folate in its diet to produce enough of these cells. This can result in tiredness, weakness, and a pale complexion.
If you’re pregnant, your baby's neural tube may not shut properly if you don't get enough folic acid in your body. Neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly are major health concerns that affect life quality and lifespan.
Spina bifida is a condition in which the spinal cord or vertebrae do not fully mature. In contrast, anencephaly is a condition in which critical regions of the brain don’t fully grow.
Anencephaly babies do not generally live long, and those with spina bifida may be handicapped for the rest of their lives. So, these are frightening issues.
The good news is that taking enough folic acid can reduce the risk of neural tube abnormalities in your baby by up to 50%.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking enough folic acid can lower your chance of having a kid with a neural tube defect by as much as 70% if you've already had a baby with one.
Moreover, folic acid may help to lower the risk of other pregnancy issues, including preterm labour and problems with the development of the baby.
How much folic acid should you take?
Before you get pregnant and until you're 12 weeks pregnant, you should take a dosage of 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. If you didn't take folic acid before being pregnant, you should begin as soon as you learn you're expecting.
Your baby's spine will have grown by the time you reach 12 weeks pregnant, so you may stop taking folic acid. You can, however, continue to take supplements after 12 weeks if you choose, and it will not endanger your baby.
Consume folate-rich green leafy vegetables, as well as folic acid-fortified morning cereals and fat spreads.
It's challenging to acquire enough folate from diet alone to ensure a safe pregnancy, which is why a folic acid supplement is essential.
On the other hand, breastfeeding mothers should aim for about 500 mcg each day.
What form is folic acid available?
Photo by Damir Mijailovic from Pexels
Here are a few ways you can get folic acid:
Some food manufacturers must add folic acid into enriched grain products such as breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, and rice. For example, some fortified breakfast cereals provide 100% of the daily required quantity.
This is intended to benefit women who do not take a supplement and do not intend to become pregnant.
Here’s a list of foods that are rich in folic acid:
- Dark green vegetables like broccoli or spinach
- Citrus fruit or juice
- Tomato juice
- Dried peas or nuts
- Corn masa (can be found in tacos)
Folic acid can also be taken as a vitamin or supplement. These tablets are widely available in pharmacies.
Surprisingly, research reveals that folic acid from supplements is absorbed far better by the body than folate found naturally in specific meals. Furthermore, foods can lose folate during storage or be damaged by cooking.
Folic acid in pregnancy- when to stop taking it?
It's suggested that you take folic acid until you're 12 weeks pregnant if you're pregnant or trying for a baby. This lowers the chances of issues with the baby's development during the first few weeks of pregnancy.
Can you take folic acid tablets before pregnancy?
Yes, you can. The CDC recommends women of reproductive age consume 400mcg of folic acid daily. This is to ensure you have enough folic acid to help prevent some birth abnormalities. In fact, folic acid should be part of your diet if you’re planning on getting pregnant.
Can you take folic acid to get pregnant?
Folic acid won’t help you in getting pregnant. Nevertheless, it is very essential in helping you achieve good development in the neural tube. Hence, folate will be helpful for women who are of reproductive age.
Remember that although folic acid is highly beneficial, it has been known to cause nausea, loss of appetite, wind, and bloating in some people.
However, these side effects are often minor and short-lived. So do consult your doctor before you start taking any new supplements!
For more information on all things related to pregnancy, click here!
Disclaimer: You are not allowed to share this article on any other website or on Facebook without providing proper credit and the original article link on theAsianparent Malaysia website.
Read more: Take Care of Your Health and Equip Yourself With Vitamins For Pregnancy!
Read more: Best Prenatal Vitamins For Pregnant Women
Read more: Pregnancy Questions: Can I Eat Deli Meat?