If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant in the near future, Folic Acid should be part of your regular diet. Folic Acid is a B vitamin that helps the body produce sufficient red blood cells, so it’s important for everyone to have enough of it. However, during pregnancy, folic acid plays an especially crucial role.
At SouthLake OB/GYN in Clermont, we can help you throughout all stages of pregnancy. We are here to ensure that you have a healthy, happy pregnancy – for both you and your baby. If you have any questions about diet, supplements or Folic Acid, contact SouthLake OB/GYN today. We can answer any questions you may have.
How to Get Enough Folic Acid
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should take a Folic Acid supplement to make sure you have enough of this vitamin in your body. Most doctors recommend that you take about 400 mcg of Folic Acid daily up until the third month of pregnancy. After that, you are advised to take 600 mcg per day until you have the baby.
It is recommended to start taking Folic Acid supplements when you start trying to conceive, rather than waiting until you find out you are pregnant. This ensures that you and your baby are receiving the appropriate amounts of Folic Acid, even before you find out you are pregnant.
Most women won’t get enough folic acid through diet alone, which is why a supplement is recommended. But if you prefer not to take supplements, you need to eat certain foods that are high in folic acid. These include leafy green vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus. You can also eat lentils, corn, and oranges for some extra folic acid. In addition, most breakfast cereals, breads, and pasta have had folic acid added to them.
Neural Tube Defects
One of the best reasons to make sure pregnant women get enough folic acid is because it helps the unborn baby’s neural tube develop properly into the spine and brain. When there is a problem with this process, it is called a neural tube defect, or NTD. One of the most common NTDs is spina bifida, in which the spine sticks outs of the baby’s back. There are different degrees of spina bifida, which is why babies born with this condition may face everything from back pain to paralysis or even a higher chance of catching life-threatening diseases, such as meningitis.
Some NTDs affect the brain more than the spine. For example, anencephaly is one condition that can occur when the mother has too little folic acid in her system. This means part of the brain is missing, making this condition fatal in most cases. Another possible issue is encephalocele, in which part of the brain develops outside of the skull. This can be fatal in many cases, depending on the severity.
The neural tube forms very early on, usually around the third or fourth week of pregnancy, which is just before most women find out they are pregnant. This is why getting enough Folic Acid even before pregnancy is important.
Other Conditions Caused by Insufficient Folic Acid
The neural tube is clearly greatly affected by the amount of Folic Acid in the body. But even babies who do not have neural tube defects could face other medical conditions. A lack of this nutrient is often associated with cleft palate and cleft lip, as well as heart defects and urinary tract problems.
Mothers who have the right amount of Folic Acid in their body can also improve the health of the placenta, since this vitamin will help ensure the cells within it grow properly. In addition, some studies show that women who get enough Folic Acid can reduce their chance of preeclampsia during pregnancy.