Folic acid is one of the important vitamins to take in pregnancy as it helps in the baby’s good health and protects the baby from several diseases.
What is Folic Acid?
It’s very much known as vitamin B. It’s also called folate or folacin. This is mainly found in dark green vegetables like spinach & broccoli. It’s also present in beans, green peas, legumes, grains and liver (meat).
What are the benefits of Folic Acid?
It helps in the production of red blood cells. It also helps in the development of the baby’s neural tube into her brain and spinal cord. It also helps in the normal development of the baby’s brain, skull, and spine. It’s a major protector of neural tube defects, also known as NTDs. Newborns care at the risk of cleft lip, palate or heart and urinary tract defects, in such cases, folic acid helps in reducing the risk of the same.
What is Neural Tube?
In the early stage of the pregnancy, a baby’s central nervous system starts developing, at that time, a neural plate forms which then folds in on itself and it becomes the neural tube. One end of the neural tube forms the brain while the rest forms the spinal cord.
What are Neural Tube defects?
Incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord are known as Neural Tube defects. The common ones are:
Encephalocele – It’s one of the rare types of birth defects of the neural tube. In this, the brain tissues protrude out to the skin through an opening in the skull.
Spina bifida – This happens when a baby’s spinal cord fails to develop or close properly when the baby is in the womb.
Anencephaly – This is a very rare disease. It happens due to the absence of a major portion of the brain, skull, and scalp.
The above defects happen between the 23rd and 26th days of pregnancy. Lot of times the woman is unaware that she is pregnant.
To avoid all such defects, women should include folic acid in their diet.
How much Folic Acid to be consumed?
The dosage differs as per the stages; recommended dose for the women who are trying to conceive is 400 micrograms of folate every day, when becomes pregnant then for first three months it 400 micrograms of folate every day, later four to nine months of pregnancy it becomes 600 micrograms of folate every day, and after delivery when the woman is breastfeeding then it becomes 500 micrograms of folate every day.
To be on a safer side, always speak to your doctor before taking any medicines.
What are the best natural sources of Folic Acid?
Folic acid can be found in natural sources to like:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Fruit juices
- Wheat germ
- Sunflower seeds
Eating the right amount of healthy food is always beneficial in birth planning. Just eat it the right way and consult your doctor whenever needed.