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Folic Acid And Pregnancy

Folic Acid And Pregnancy

Having a healthy baby means that you should also worry about being healthy. One of the most important things you can do to help prevent serious birth defects in your baby is to consume enough folic acid every day, especially before conception and during the first stage of pregnancy.

What is folic acid?
Folic acid (or folate) is a vitamin B (B9) found mainly in dark green vegetables, such as broccoli and spinach, in legumes, such as beans or peas, and in fortified cereals.

What are the benefits of folic acid?
Women who are pregnant or who are trying to get pregnant should consume at least 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folic acid daily before conception and for at least three months after becoming pregnant. Studies show that this significantly reduces the risk of a baby having neural tube defects.

What are neural tube defects?
Neural tube defects are congenital deformations that involve the incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord. The most common neural tube defects are the following:

  • spina bifida: when the spinal cord and spine do not close completely
  • anencephaly: severe underdevelopment of the brain
  • encephalocele: when brain tissue protrudes into the skin through an opening in the skull
  • All these deformations occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy, usually before the woman knows she is pregnant.

That is why it is very important that all women of childbearing age ingest folic acid; Not only those who are trying to get pregnant. Half of the pregnancies are not planned, so every woman who could become pregnant should make sure she gets enough folic acid.

It is not clear why folic acid has such a great effect in preventing neural tube defects. But experts do know that it is vital for the development of DNA. Therefore, folic acid plays an important role in the growth and development of cells, as well as in tissue formation.

How can I drink enough folic acid?
How can women of childbearing age get enough folic acid every day, especially those who are planning to get pregnant?

The US Food and Drug Administration. UU. (FDA) obliges food producers to add folic acid to their fortified cereal products. In this way, you can ingest it by eating cereals, bread, pasta and rice that contain 100% of the recommended daily serving of folic acid. Check the product labels where this information appears.

However, for most women, eating fortified foods is not enough. You will probably need a vitamin supplement to reach the recommended daily levels. During pregnancy, you need more of all essential nutrients than before becoming pregnant.

Prenatal vitamins should not replace a well-balanced diet. But taking them can give your body, and your baby, a vitamin and mineral booster. Some health care professionals recommend taking a folic acid supplement in addition to prenatal vitamins. Ask your doctor about daily folic acid intake. I may recommend a prescription supplement, an over-the-counter brand or both.

Also, check with your doctor if you have already had a pregnancy affected by the neural tube defect or if you or your partner were affected by one. Your doctor may recommend that you ingest a higher dose of folic acid (even before you get pregnant).

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