Regular intake of folic acid during pregnancy significantly contributes to a healthy pregnancy. Most importantly, it minimises the risk of neural tube defects.
Folic acid or folate is a water soluble form of vitamin B9. When taken during and before pregnancy it prevents serious birth defects.
If you have been planning to conceive or have recently discovered that you are pregnant, it is important for you to increase the intake of folic acid i.e. make it at least up to 400 mcg. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), taking folic acid on a daily basis can prevent seventy percent of brain, spine and other neural tube defects (NTDs).
Benefits of Folic Acid during Pregnancy
Folic acid facilitates normal cellular development of the unborn baby. Many women don’t realise the importance of regular folic intake before and during pregnancy. According to a study, women with deficiency of folic acid are at two to three time higher the risk of delivering a premature baby.
- Folic acid minimises the risk of cleft lip or cleft palate. Cleft lip is a birth defect that affects the upper part or roof of the mouth.
- It minimises the risk of heart defects in the baby.
- Moreover, it facilitates healthy and quick growth of the placenta in the baby. Absence or lack of folic acid can impair foetal growth and cell division.
- Folic acid plays an important role in production of Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), extra blood cells needed during pregnancy and most importantly, prevents neural tube defects.
- Folic acid is also known to facilitate proper formation of haemoglobin.
- Besides, it minimises possible risks of Alzheimer’s disease, heart attack, stroke and cancer.
- This simple vitamin can prevent pain and complications for both the mother and newborn during pregnancy as well as at the time of delivery.
Birth defects usually occur in the initial four weeks of pregnancy. Most women don't even realise that they are pregnant in the first few weeks and therefore, end up missing on their required amount of folic acid consumption. If you are one of these women, it is essential to talk to your obstetrician and know what quantity of folate you need to have.
Sources of Folic Acid
- Breakfast cereals
- Beef liver
- Citrus juices
Other foods that have folic acid include oatmeal, broccoli, corn, enriched pastas and breads, asparagus, spinach, lettuce, lima beans, sprouts, orange juice and avocados.
Folic acid empowers a woman with enough iron to take her through the 9 months of pregnancy. Considering that a pregnant woman needs more nutrients than what was required before she got pregnant, keeping a close watch of nutrient intake is important.
Read more articles on Pregnancy Diet.
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