Why is folic acid important during pregnancy?
Folic acid is a vitamin belonging to the ‘B complex’ group. The synthetic form is called Folate.
Folic acid is necessary during and also before pregnancy. The reasons folic acid is necessary for a safe pregnancy outcome are -
- Prevention of Neural tube defects in the baby. Neural tube develops into brain and spinal cord for which folic acid very important. Deficiency of folate causes Anencephaly and fusion defects of spinal cord called Spina bifida
- Studies have shown prevention of congenital anomalies of newborn like cleft lip, cleft palate, certain heart defects by consumption of sufficient quantity of folic acid
- Studies have shown that folic acid reduces the risk of Preeclampsia in the mother (Pre-eclampsia is the development of high blood pressure in pregnant women who was previously having normal blood pressure causing problem to the mother and the fetus)
- Folic acid helps in prevention of anemia in the mother (Anemia is the presence of lesser levels of hemoglobin in blood)
How much folic acid should I consume?
CDC (Centre for Disease Control) recommends daily folic acid intake of 400 mcg at least 1 month prior to pregnancy till 3 months of pregnancy.
What foods are rich source of Folic acid?
- Dried beans, peas, and nuts
- Dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, turnip greens, okra, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus
- Citrus fruit and juice