One of the best things you can do to ensure a healthy baby is to make sure you are eating a healthy diet, with plenty of folate-rich foods, before you get pregnant.”–Bethany Thayer, M.S.,R.D., director of wellness programs and strategies at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit
Folic acid is also known as Vitamin B9. It is imporant for DNA synthesis. Many studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms(mcg) of folic acid daily before conception and during pregnancy reduces the risks of neural tube defects. Neural tube defects usually happen in the first month of pregnancy when usually a woman doesn’t even realize that she is pregnant yet.
The most common neural tube defects are:
- Spina bifida, an opening of the spinal cord that may damage nerves as well
- Anencephaly, abnormal development of the brain and skull
- Encephalocele/Cranium Bifidum, part of the baby’s brain come through the hole in the skull
Folic acid is pregnancy’s superhero!
For mother: Folic acid increases the production of red blood cells count in the body. This is important because it can prevent iron deficiency during pregnancy phase. By taking folic acid, the mother is able to reduce the chances of miscarriage.
For baby: Folic acid helps in the development of baby, while still in mother womb. It is able to protect the neural tube of the fetus, which later grows into the brain and spinal cord. Issues like poor baby growth in the womb, low birth weight or premature birth problems can all be reduced by taking folic acid.
Folic acid is normally safe for most adults; however, an overdose of folic acid may produce:
- Stomach upset
- Poor appetite
- Behaviour changes such as depression, excitability or irritation
- Skin reaction
Please consult to your doctor before taking folic acid if you have a history of:
Angioplasty: Folic acid should not be used by people recovering from angioplasty. This is because folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 might further block arteries.
Research found that people with a history of heart disease might increase the risk of heart attack by taking folic acid and vitamin B6.
People with history of cancer also should avoid high doses of folic acid. Research shows that taking 800-1000 mcg of folic acid daily may increase the risk of cancer.
Anemia caused by vitamin B12 deficiency:
Folic acid might mask some signs of anemia and can lead to a delay in treatment.
Taking folic acid supplements might make seizures worse in people with seizure disorders, particularly if taken in high doses.
- Trying to conceive: 400 mcg
- 9-12 weeks (First 3 months): 400 mcg
- 13-40 weeks (4 to 9 months): 600 mcg
- Breastfeeding: 500 mcg
Food Sources for Folic Acid
- Fortified Cereals
- Cook Lentils
- Great Northern Beans
- Enrich Pasta (Wholemeal Pasta)
- Beef Liver