When it is confirmed a woman is pregnant, the first advice she gets from her doctor is to take folic acid during pregnancy. This is due to the number of folic acid benefits in pregnancy. As a matter of fact, this is also recommended for women who are trying to conceive…
When a woman is pregnant the only thought that occupies her mind, is that her baby has to be healthy. So that the baby is healthy, it is important that the mother pays attention to all the nutrients that she consumes. One of the most important nutrient that must be a part of a pregnant woman’s diet is folic acid or vitamin B. Research has proved that taking folic acid regularly at least for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy helps in countering neural tube defects. In other words, folic acid benefits in pregnancy are such that about 70% of these defects can be prevented, if the mother-to-be takes folic acid daily during pregnancy.
A Little Info about Folic Acid
Folic acid is commonly known as folate. It belongs to the vitamin B family. The job of this vitamin is to make new cells and division of the cells. It also has a role to play in formation of hemoglobin. When a pregnant woman consumes sufficient quantities of folic acid, she is at reduced risk of heart attack and strokes.
However, pregnant women need a fresh supply of folic acid as the body does not store folates, for they are water soluble vitamins. Pregnant women therefore have to consume folic acid, which is of vital importance to the growing baby, especially in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
In its natural form, folic acid is found in sprouts, green beans, spinach, potatoes, sunflower seeds, green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, lima beans, asparagus, peanuts, fortified cereals, etc. Folic acid can also be found in fortified staple foods like wheat, rice or corn flour. Since the consumption of the natural food products vary in each person from time to time, it is recommended that women who are pregnant or are planning their pregnancy should start taking folic acid supplements regularly.
Benefits of Folic Acid during Pregnancy
Folic acid and pregnancy have a close relation. Folic acid is important for the neural tube. If a mother suffers from deficiency of folic acid, it is seen that the neural tube of the baby may not close properly. This in turn may lead to spina bifida, where the spinal cord or a fluid filled sac may protrude through an opening in the back. It can also cause anencephaly, which is a life-threatening condition.
Other than preventing spinal bifida, folic acid helps in rapid development of the fetus. It also ensures that there is fast growth of placenta. According to research, if during pregnancy, there is deficiency of folic acid, it can lead to premature delivery, or the baby may have low birth weight. In some cases, it can also cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
Folic acid helps in preventing cleft lip and palate. Research has proved the fact that women who consume folic acid during pregnancy are at the lowest risk of delivering a child with cleft lip or palate.
It also helps in reducing other complications during pregnancy. Consuming sufficient quantities of folates during pregnancy, ensures that the woman does not suffer from pregnancy induced high blood pressure. It also ensures that the mother-to-be does not suffer from pre-eclampsia, which is a serious condition.
Folic Acid Requirement in Pregnancy
We have just seen the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy. It is important to know the right quantity of folic acid that should be taken during pregnancy. Experts are of the opinion that every woman who is in her child-bearing age should take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday. During the first trimester, the quantity should be 400 micrograms itself.
If the woman has not been taking folic acid before pregnancy and is now pregnant, then she will have to take at least 600 micrograms of folic acid everyday. For women who have delivered a child with spinal cord related problems previously, the right quantity of folic acid is much higher. The physician will be in a better place to prescribe the right dosage.
No doubt, folic acid is beneficial during pregnancy. When you are planning your pregnancy or are pregnant, it is best to consult your health care professional about the nutrients that you will have to include in your diet along with folic acid.
Disclaimer: This write up should be treated only for informational purposes. It should not be used to override the opinion of the health care professional.