Folic acid is commonly known as the artificial form or substitute of vitamin B called folate. If you think you are pregnant, then you should definitely start taking folic acid. The folic acid should be one of the essential components of the diet for a pregnant woman.
Since many women don’t even know about their pregnancy, hence they should be given sufficient folic acid for the growth and development of their child. There are various evidences which show the importance of folic acid during pregnancy and how it plays an essential role in preventing various diseases, disorders and risks in pregnancy.
Why is Folic Acid Important for Pregnancy?
Folic acid is known as the savior in pregnancy. It is a very essential component for the growth and development of a growing fetus. Central nervous system is very essential for a baby growing inside the mother’s womb. Central nervous system comprises of the brain and the spinal cord. The folic acid ensures that red blood cells are formed properly and the central nervous system is correctly developed from the neural tube. Hence, it prevents neural tube defects (NTDs) which start occurring before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Hence, it is really important to consume folic acid in early pregnancy stages or before conception.
It is Recommended Especially Under the Following Conditions:
- When either of the parent has neural tube defects
- When your previous child has any neural tube defect
- Either of you has a family history of incidences related to neural tube defects
- You are a patient of diabetes
Hence detecting diabetes at the right time is extremely important for the pregnancy to be a healthy one. Natal diabetes can be harmful for both the mother and child.
Benefits of Folic Acid During Pregnancy:
The Major Benefits of Consuming Folic Acid During Pregnancy are Mentioned as Follows:
It helps in the prevention of neural tube defects. The defects can be of various types such as spina bifida (it refers to the condition in which spinal cord or vertebrae is incompletely or poorly developed. The babies suffering from this defect are found to be physically disabled for lifetime. The other defect is anencephaly which refers to poor development of the different components of the brain. Babies having this defect have a very short life span.
Folic acid helps to protect the babies against premature birth. Also, if a child has low weight during birth, then also, folic acid helps in preventing this condition. It also prevents miscarriage and poor growth of fetus in the womb.
Some Other Risks Which Can be Prevented by Taking Folic Acid are:
- Various types of cancers
- Alzheimer’s disease- it is one of the neurological disorders in which person loses its memory.
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Complications in pregnancy
How Long Do I Need to Take Folic Acid When Pregnant?
It is recommended to take folic acid in almost all the stages of pregnancy, be it when you get to know that you are about to conceive or during the first three months or during four to nine months of pregnancy. You are supposed to take folic acid even after giving birth to the child. It is recommended by the doctors that folic acid should be taken during the breastfeeding stage also as it supplements the child growth and development completely.
How Much Folic Acid During Pregnancy?
The amount of folic acid which is required to be consumed by pregnant women in early stages is recommended to be 400 micro-grams every day. There are different stages in pregnancy and during each different stages, a particular amount of folic acid is recommended which are listed below:
- when you think you are about to get pregnant or before conception: 400 micrograms
- during first three stages of pregnancy (this is critical period as the chances of neural tube defects are more likely to occur during this period): 400 micrograms
- during four to nine months of pregnancy: 600 micrograms
- during breastfeeding: 500 micrograms
It must be noted that this amount of consumption of folic acid may vary according to the prescriptions written by your doctor as it may happen that you are already prescribed a multivitamin tablet.
Food that Contains Folic Acid for Pregnancy:
There are Various Sources of Folic Acid or Folate which are Listed Below:
- Tablets containing folic acid from medical stores or supermarkets
The Sources of Folic Acid Which are Already Present in your Diet are
- green leafy vegetables,
- breakfast cereals (3/4 cups) contains 400 mcg
- Beef liver which is properly cooked and braised (3oz) contains 215 mcg.
- Lentils which are cooked and boiled (1/2 cup) contains 179 mcg
- Spinach which is frozen, cooked and boiled ( ½ cup) contains 115 mcg
- Great northern beans which are boiled (1/2 cup) contains 90 mcg
- brown rice and granary bread
- dried beans peas and nuts
- citrus fruits and juices
Side Effects of Taking Too Much Folic Acid During Pregnancy:
One of the major side effects of taking too much folic acid is the damage to the nervous system if the condition is not examined, diagnosed and treated. Also, it helps in the hiding of the symptoms of deficiency of vitamin B12 which is necessary for the development of the brain components.
1. Autism : Excessive folic acid during pregnancy can make your baby be at the risk of having autism spectrum condition. Hence a check on the folic acid is very essential.
2. Seizures : At times the body can go in a state of shock and can lead to seizures due high folic acid levels in the body.
Among other major side effects are diarrhea, sleeplessness, nausea and irritability
It can be concluded that the folic acid is essential for a healthy pregnancy and hence should be taken in a right quantity by the consultation from your health practitioner. We would suggest a thorough examination before any intake of folic acid, as excessive can be harmful for a few.