Folic acid and pregnancy: what do I need to know?

Folic acid

There has been a lot of buzz about folic acid and pregnancy, and I wanted to find out all the latest before I committed to taking anything while I was pregnant. I am glad I did my research because there some specific things you can do with folic acid while pregnant that you would not normally do. I looked for information regarding a folic acid pregnancy and compiled my research in an informative article titled Folic acid and pregnancy: what do I need to know?

So, what is folic acid, and why is it important in pregnancy? Folic acid is a vitamin B found in many fortified foods and supplements. It’s the synthetic form of folate. Folate is found naturally occurring in many healthy foods. Folic acid is used by your body to make new cells and produce DNA. It’s required for normal growth and development throughout your life. It is essential to take folic acid before and during pregnancy. It’s imperative for the proper organ development of a developing baby. According to research, it is beneficial to take folic acid before getting pregnant as it may help prevent congenital disabilities, such as:

  • Anencephaly
  • Spina bifida
  • Encephalocele (rarely)

All of the stated above defects happen during the first 28 days of pregnancy. In fact, these defects happen even before a woman knowing that she is pregnant.

So, it’s highly important for all women of childbearing age as well as those who are trying to get pregnant, to get enough folic acid. Since half of all pregnancies are not planned, the woman who could become pregnant should get enough folic acid. Well, it’s still not known why folic acid has such a significant impact on the prevention of neural tube defects. However, the experts do know that it’s vital to DNA development. Simply putting, folic acid plays a big role in tissue formation and cell growth and development.

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Defining the terminology is really important to any discussion about the role of folate in nutrition and reproductive biology. It is necessary to state here that “folate” is a generic term used for the group of compounds based on the folic acid structure and are chemically related. Do you know that folate, or vitamin B9, is considered as one of the 13 essential vitamins? It must be obtained from diet or supplementation, for it cannot be synthesized anew by the body. Folic acid is found in pharmaceutical vitamins and artificially enriched foods. Dietary folate is a nutrient that is naturally found in foods such as egg yolk, leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit, and liver.

Those women who can get pregnant are recommended to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily as a supplement before getting pregnant. Then they should take it when the baby’s spine is developing during the first twelve weeks of their pregnancy. In case you did not know about folic acid supplements and did not take before pregnancy, then start taking them as soon as you find about your pregnancy.

These supplements are available in large supermarkets, pharmacies, and health food stores. You can also get them on prescription from a GP.

The bottom line is that taking folic acid while pregnant is an absolute no-brainer taking while trying to get pregnant is even better. But, even if you have no pregnancy plans, taking a folate supplement can only improve your health, and adding to your body’s natural intake of folate will ensure you all of the promising health benefits. Also, add foods fortified with folic acid to your diet. Don’t wait to get pregnant to include folic acid to your diet. By then, it may be too late. You should consult a doctor to determine the correct amount of folic acid you need.

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