Importance of folic acid during pregnancy
Why is folic acid crucial during early pregnancy
You’ve spent the longest three minutes of your life waiting for that pregnancy test to turn out positive. And it did! The very next thing on your agenda should be to double up that morning bowl of cereal and order an extra loaf of 100% whole wheat bread to go with your lentil soup. A diet rich in nutrients is crucial to your little one’s development, and folic acid is considered to be one of the most essential ones that need to reach your baby’s body.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is the laboratory-made version of vitamin B9 and is available in supplements that are easily absorbed by the body. It is called folate in its natural form and can be found in foods like lentils, spinach, broccoli, and citrus fruits like oranges and strawberries.
Why is it important during pregnancy?
Prevents neural tube defects in baby
Folic acid is crucial in preventing neural tube defects during your baby’s development. The neural tube of your fetus later grows into brain and spinal cord of your baby. Taking adequate dosage of folic acid ensures that there are no pre natal defects during the early formation of the central nervous system.
According to reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of neural tube defects is reduced by up to 70% if pregnant mothers start taking the daily dose of folic acid recommended by their obstetrician at least a month before conceiving and during the first trimester of pregnancy.
What are the other benefits of folic acid?
Reduces chance of miscarriage and premature birth
Consuming folic acid during pregnancy is known to prevent miscarriage and premature birth.
Reduces risk of pregnancy complications
It reduces your risk of pregnancy complications like preeclampsia.
It also protects your child from being born with a cleft lip or palate and low birth weight.
Lemons and other folate-rich foods like dark green vegetables and whole grains also help with common and early pregnancy symptoms like morning sickness and constipation; there’s more than just one benefit to it.
What are the consequences of not having folic acid?
The neural tube is that part of the embryo that develops into the brain and spine. A folic acid deficiency may put your baby at a risk of developing spinal cord defects like spina bifida and brain defects such as anencephaly.
The signs are subtle when it comes to folic acid deficiency. You may lose appetite and weight, feel weak, suffer headaches, a sore tongue, diarrhoea, anaemia, irritability, and heart palpitations. These could be easily taken care of with folic acid supplements and a folate-rich diet.
When should you start taking folic acid?
You could even begin folic acid intake moments after deciding to conceive instead of waiting for the first symptoms of pregnancy. Your gynaecologist will prescribe the dosage when you visit him/her.
What are the natural sources of folate?
Folic acid is naturally found as folate in food groups like lentils, spinach, broccoli and citrus fruits However, it is important to take supplements when you decide to conceive or have conceived.