The Importance of Folic Acid for Pregnant Women
According to the March of Dimes, folic acid, which is a B vitamin helps prevent birth defects in the brain and spinal cord when it’s taken before a woman is pregnant and during the early stages (first trimester) of pregnancy. Folic acid is available in different forms including folic acid-only supplements, in multivitamins and it’s found in a variety of foods most of us eat on a daily basis.
Folic acid isn’t just for the unborn baby, it’s great for mom, dad, grandma and everyone else too. It plays an important role in the production of normal red blood cells, and some studies suggest that folic acid may help prevent strokes and some cancers.
What are NTD’s?
NTD’s, or Neural Tube Defects such as spinal bifida and anencephaly, affect up to 3,000 babies per year. Studies show that 3 out of 4 women do not take folic acid of any form before or during the pregnancy. Other studies show that if women would take folic acid, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, the number of babies born with brain and spinal cord defects would reduce up to 70%. NTD’s are preventable, so it’s important to remember how much good folic acid brings to the table.
Recommended Dosages of Folic Acid
A healthy diet that includes foods containing folic acid is always recommended, regardless if you’re trying to get pregnant or if you are pregnant. There’s a list of foods in the section below. Multivitamins should have 400 micrograms (check the label) of folic acid and should be taken daily before you’re pregnant and during the first trimester. If you’ve already had a baby born with NTD’s, your doctor will be able to recommend how much folic acid you should be taking. The dosage will be larger to prevent another pregnancy with the same circumstances and will probably be somewhere around 4 milligrams or 4,000 micrograms daily, at least a month before conception occurs and throughout the first trimester.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are no known toxic levels regarding folic acid, and you can never have ‘too much’. However, they do recommend that your doses don’t exceed 1,000 micrograms of synthetic (pill form) folic acid per day.
Foods With Folic Acid
There are a number of different foods you can eat to get your daily dosage of folic acid, here is a list of most of them:
- Orange Juice
- Romaine Lettuce
- Black beans
- Enriched bread
- Fortified breakfast cereals such as Total