Folic acid also known as Vitamin B9 is one of the most important vitamin you need to take before conception and during pregnancy. Your midwife or doctor would have already recommended you to take a prenatal vitamin which includes the daily recommended requisite of 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby’s brain and spinal cord. You can also top it up every morning with a bowl of dry fruit and fortified cereal (corn flakes / oats).
Why do I need Folic Acid, what are the benefits?
Folic acid is very important for the development of a healthy foetus. Folic acid can reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) significantly. Your baby’s neural tube may not close correctly due to the lack of Folic acid and she could develop the following health problems
- Spina bifida: incomplete spinal cord development
- Anencephaly: incomplete brain development
- Cleft lip and palate
- Premature birth
- Low birth weight
- Poor growth in the womb
- Heart disease
- Some types of cancers
- Alzheimer’s disease
What is Folic Acid and when should I start taking Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a form of a Vitamin B called folate. Folate plays an integral role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby’s neural tube develop into her brain and spinal cord. The best food sources of folate are fortified cereals, dark green vegetables such as Spinach and citrus fruits (Grab that orange juice), Beans, Breads, Rice & Pastas.
Birth defects typically occur during the initial 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. That’s the primary reason, it is recommended to have folate in your system during those early stages, especially when you are planning to conceive because most of the time people realize they are pregnanct after 4-5 weeks. By this time, your baby has already commenced with the development of the brand and spinal cord.
If you consult your doctor when you were trying to conceive, they will surely recommend you to start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid.
How Much Folic Acid Should I Take?
Remember you would normally require 400 micrograms (mcg) of Folic Acid every day, so if you are buying your prenatal vitamin, check the pack if has the recommended daily value or speak to your Doctor to make sure it has the recommended amounts of everything you need, including folic acid. All prenatal vitamins are not the same and some may have less or more of the vitamins and minerals you need.
Here’s how much folic acid is recommended each day in terms of pregnancy (Please consult your doctor first)
- Before Pregnancy : While you’re trying to conceive: 400 mcg
- Initial 3 months of pregnancy: 400 mcg
- Between four to nine months of pregnancy: 600 mcg
- Post birth : During breastfeeding: 500 mcg