It is a well-known fact that the body of a pregnant woman needs multiple vitamins, proteins, minerals, fats, and carbohydrates for a smooth pregnancy as well as a healthy baby.
Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients for a pregnant woman's body. It helps in ensuring a healthy pregnancy and proper growth of the baby. It is crucial for the reproduction of cells as well as growth.
It takes care of the neural tube of the baby that in turn governs the development of the brain and spinal cord. The foliate requirements of the body increase as the blood volume increases due to placental development. This can be fulfilled only with an adequate supply of folic acid.
To shield the baby from diseases, it is a good idea to start taking folic acid way before you plan to conceive. While many women do not use folic acid supplements before they conceive, they opt for dietary additions rich in folic acid.
Benefits of Folic Acid For Mother and Baby Health
Here are some reasons why folic acid is essential before pregnancy:
- Folic acid helps prevent miscarriage and pregnancy complications
- It protects the baby against birth defects
- It is a preventive shield against neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly
- It also prevents the occurrence of cleft lip and palate
- Folic acid is essential for cell development and damage prevention
- It also minimizes the chances of cancer in the future
- Lower levels of folic acid may lead to preterm birthor sudden abortion
The exact date of conception will mostly be unknown to you. It is hence advisable to start your folic acid intake as soon as you start trying to conceive.
Nykaa recommends: INLIFE Iron Folic Acid, 60 Tablets For Prenatal Health Of Women, HealthKart Iron 17mg (With Folic Acid) 60 Capsules
How Much Folic Acid is Enough?
Based on the guidelines by American Academy of Paediatrics, all women capable of conception must maintain a folic acid intake of 400 mg per day to prevent neural tube defects.
Here are some more points to remember:
- Before conception or during early pregnancy, 400 mg of folic acid is enough
- It is wise to maintain your intake during breastfeeding as well
- You should discuss with your doctor and increase your intake during the 4th to 9th month if required
- Take your previous medical history into account and discuss with your doctor about the amount of folic acid you need. For instance, women with prevalent medical conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy need higher doses of folic acid supplements
- Excess of folic acid may also come with side effects such as breathing disorders, skin rashes, etc. You must always abide by the instructions of your doctor and not overdo your intake
Natural Sources of Folic Acid:
Just like all other nutrients, it is important to incorporate folic acid in your diet than taking supplements. Below are some foods rich in folic acid:
- Green vegetables and leafy greens are particularly rich in folic acid. Other vegetables such as beetroot, asparagus, etc. are also considered as good sources of folic acid.
- Fruits such as oranges, kiwi, banana, strawberries, and watermelon are rich in folic acid.
- Nuts, grains, and legumes are not primary sources but complement the supplements greatly.
Eat healthy, and rely on your doctor:
It is advisable to incorporate as many folate-rich foods in your diet as possible and supplements should only be taken when prescribed by the doctor. Power packing your diet with these natural sources will do wonders for you and your babys health.