The CDC recommends that if you are a woman considering getting pregnant, start taking folic acid. If you just found out you are pregnant, start taking folic acid and continue to take it while you are pregnant. Even if you are a woman of child bearing age, the CDC says you should routinely take folic acid. That makes it pretty clear that the benefits of taking folic acid before and during pregnancy must be immense.
What Is Folic Acid?
Folic acid or folate is a form of a Vitamin B. The FDA mandates that food makers add it to enriched grain products, breakfast cereals, pastas and rice. It’s important to check the label to be sure.
It is found naturally in dark green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and legumes like beans and peas. It is also found in citrus fruits.
Benefits Of Taking Folic Acid
Folic acid is vital to the development of our DNA and cell growth. Vitamin B or folate helps in the proper development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord.
It is especially important for the growth of red blood cells which help the neural tube in the brain to develop properly. If the neural tube does not close properly, birth defects can occur in your baby along with spinal cord issues.
These brain deformities occur in the first three to four weeks of pregnancy before many women even know they are pregnant. Having the recommended amounts of folic acid already in your system helps to protect your growing baby.
Folic acid specifically helps to prevent the following issues:
- Spina Bifida is a birth defect which is caused by an underdeveloped spinal cord or vertebrae. A child with spina bifida may have to endure multiple surgeries, paralysis, and be permanently disabled.
- Anencephaly is an underdeveloped brain defect. In this case, most of these children do not survive very long.
- Cleft palate or lip
- Premature birth
- Low birth rate
- Poor womb growth
Whereas, taking folic acid has positive advantages for women. It has been shown to reduce the risk of preeclampsia, heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and Alzheimer’s Disease, and taking folic acid at least one year before pregnancy reduces the chances of early delivery by over 50%.
Proper Doses Of Folic Acid
The CDC recommends women take 400 micrograms per day prior to pregnancy and during the first three months, then 600 micrograms between months 4 through 9, and 500 micrograms during breastfeeding.
Talk with Women’s Care of Alaska if you have chosen a prenatal multivitamin to be sure you are getting the right dose.
Eating a balanced diet and taking the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals will increase the likelihood of a healthy baby.
Contact Women’s Care of Alaska if you are considering becoming pregnant and have questions about your intake of vitamins, especially folic acid.
For further questions or to schedule an appointment, please call (907) 279-2273 today.