Foods with folate are an integral part of the diet during pregnancy. Folic acid, a type of folate, is a vitamin B that helps our body to make new cells. It naturally exists in fortified cereal, green vegetables, citrus fruits, rice, and pasta. Most of us do not consume a varied diet, so the doctors urge all women of reproductive age to take 400 micrograms of folic acid each day.
Why should folic acid be taken?
During early development, a baby needs folic acid for the formation of a neural tube. If it is not enough in your body during the pregnancy stage, there would be incomplete development of a baby’s spinal cord and maybe other significant parts of the brain. The baby may also develop other health problems.
Babies with a brain defect (anencephaly) do not live long, and those with a defect in the spinal cord (spina bifida) are permanently disabled. However, there are good chances are to protect your baby from these defects by getting enough folic acid.
Other benefits of folic acid include preventing-
- Low birth weight
- Cleft lip and palate
- Poor growth in the womb
- Premature birth
How much folic acid should be taken?
All the women are recommended to take 400 mcg of folic acid each day. You can take a multivitamin or folic acid supplements to fulfill the recommended dose. The suggested amount each day in terms of pregnancy period is
⮚ Before pregnancy: 400 mcg
⮚ First 3 months of pregnancy: 400 mcg
⮚ 4 to 9 months of pregnancy: 600 mcg ⮚ (some prefer to take 400 mcg)
⮚ Breastfeeding period: 500 mcg
Overdose is never recommended unless your doctor suggests it for some other health condition. And as for dose also it is recommended for you to ask your OBGYN, as to follow the guidelines in your setup.
When should you start taking folic acid?
When you are trying to conceive, you can take folic acid along with a prenatal vitamin. You can have its appropriate dosage each day, starting from before pregnancy period to after pregnancy period.
As the acid is primarily to avoid congenital disabilities, you should start taking it within the first three to four weeks before planning a pregnancy. Thus, you would have enough folic in your system in the early stage when the brain and spinal cord development occurs.