Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that is crucial for your health, especially when you want to get pregnant and during pregnancy. According to experts, folic acid is essential for pregnant women as it could prevent up to 70% of all neural tube defects, birth defects of the brain and spine of the baby. It’s found in certain vegetables, nuts, and legumes, but most moms-to-be don’t eat enough of these foods regularly to get all the folic acid they need, which is why it’s so important to take prenatal vitamins that contain it.
So what can you do if you have not taken enough folic acid and are pregnant? First of all, it is never too late to start making sure you are getting the necessary doses of this important vitamin for you and your baby. Pregnant women who maintain high levels of folate in the blood are less likely to have premature or low birth weight babies.
Why do women need folic acid?
Folic acid is important to everyone, but it is especially important to women of childbearing age. Folic acid is known to decrease the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine (spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele) that can form during pregnancy. All women who can have children need folic acid for several reasons:
- Getting enough folic acid is important before conception because most birth defects of the brain and spine develop in the first 28 days of pregnancy, many times before a woman knows she is pregnant.
- Statistics show that more than 50% of pregnancies are not planned. Therefore, getting enough folic acid is equally important for both women who plan to become pregnant and those who do not.
- When a woman discovers that she is pregnant, she should start taking the recommended dose of folic acid to prevent these birth defects.
Folic Acid Benefits
Folic acid has been shown to significantly prevent major birth defects, especially those that can occur very early in pregnancy, usually before women know they are pregnant. These problems are related to the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida (the leading cause of infantile paralysis) and anencephaly (a life-threatening condition in which a baby is born with a severely underdeveloped brain and skull).
Some of the benefits of taking folic acid in pregnancy are:
- Regulate normal plasma and blood levels.
- More possibilities of experiencing a delivery without complications at 9 months.
- Better possibilities for the baby’s organs to develop properly at the cellular level.
Sources of folic acid
Although folic acid can be found naturally in some foods, it can be difficult to maintain a diet that meets your daily folic acid needs. In addition to eating foods rich in folic acid, a doctor may also recommend taking a daily supplement or multivitamins that contain folic acid.
Foods rich in folic acid
Check food and drink labels to see if they have folic acid:
- Folate can be found naturally in green leafy vegetables, such as kale and spinach, as well as citrus and legumes.
Folic acid is included in some foods that are labeled “fortified,” including breakfast foods (some contain the total amount of folic acid a woman needs each day), breads, flours, pasta, cornmeal, and rice. White.
If you can’t eat enough folic acid from a natural food source, check with your doctor so she can prescribe supplements or vitamins that give you the recommended daily dose.
Folic acid supplements
Generally, it is advisable to consume 5mg of daily dose throughout the pregnancy and in the first months after delivery. Over-the-counter folic acid supplements are already dosed in 0.5 mg doses. Keep these tips in mind when choosing folic acid supplements:
- Most pharmacies and stores offer a single folic acid supplement or a daily multivitamin that contains the recommended daily allowance.
- For those women who cannot swallow large pills, these folic acid-containing supplements can also be sold in different chewy chocolate or fruit flavors.
If you are planning to become pregnant in the near future, taking enough folic acid every day is an important part of both you and your baby enjoying good health.