Folic Acid and Pregnancy

Pregnant women can find a superhero in folic acid. If you are pregnant or have plans of being pregnant in the future taking the recommended dose of folic acid can aid in preventing birth defects in the brain and spinal cord of the baby. Feed your body 400 micrograms of folic acid through prenatal supplements and while you’re at it you can also have a bowl of cereals fortified with folic acid for your breakfast.

So what is folic acid?
Also known as folate, folic acid belongs to the B vitamins group. Folic acid has a vital role in producing red blood cells and it also aids in the development of the baby’s neural tube into the brain and spine. Fortified cereals are one of the best sources of folic acid that we have.

How early should I take folic acid?
One of the most popular questions that many pregnant women ask is when they should start feeding their body with folic acid. The unborn baby’s brain and spinal cord are on its early stage of development within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy and it is within this time frame that birth defects occur. Within these weeks, your body should already have folic acid. If you’ve made a consultation with your doctor while trying to get pregnant, he or she may have advised you to start taking a prenatal vitamin with folate. There is a study that showed a result of decreased premature delivery by 50% with women who took folate for a year or more before conceiving.

Centre for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC is recommending a daily intake of folate at the very least 1 month before a woman becomes pregnant. However it is also important to note that the CDC is also recommending that women who are already at a stage when childbearing is possible to take folic acid daily as well. So the earlier the better.

Recommended Dose of Folic Acid
How much is enough of folic acid? This is an important question that any woman who is already at childbearing stage should ask especially those who are planning to become pregnant. The daily recommended dose is 400 micrograms. During pregnancy the recommended dose for the first trimester is 400 micrograms and 600 micrograms from 4 – 9 months. When breastfeeding, the recommended dose is 500 micrograms.
Those who are taking a multivitamin should check the label and see if what they are taking contain the recommended dose . Those who do not want to take a multivitamin can opt instead to take folate supplements. However, it’s important to remember not to take both.

Additional Tip
It is best to consult your OB about the prenatal vitamin you bought when you’re pregnant. This is to ensure that the prenatal vitamin you are taking contains the recommended amounts of all the nutrients you need and this includes folate or folic acid. You should know that prenatal vitamins are not created equal. Some contain more nutrients while some contain less of the nutrients you need for your pregnancy.

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