Folic acid is synthetic vitamin B9. It is responsible for the development of your baby’s neural tube, a hollow structure inside the brain and spinal cord. It is advised to pregnant expecting moms and women who are planning pregnancy for a healthy gestation. There are plenty of natural sources that you can opt for to get your daily dose of this vitamin: Spinach, chickpeas, peas, peanuts, sunflower seeds, fruits and fruit juices, etc. Its supplements are prescribed to pregnant women.
it is important for you to have folic acid during your gestational period, there are specific guidelines for the intake of this vitamin. While you are trying to conceive and during the first trimester, your daily intake of folic acid should be 400 mcg. For the remaining months, the recommended daily dosage is 600 mcg. However, during breastfeeding you need to bring it down to 500 mcg. Though there are many dietary sources of this vitamin, as mentioned already, it is not possible to get enough of this vitamin from these foods. That is why doctors recommend this vitamin in the form of supplement to pregnant women or while planning to conceive.
Once the portions are sorted, the next question that might pop up in your mid is when you should start consuming this vitamin from? While this can vary depending on your condition, It is found that women who took prenatal vitamins containing folic acid a year before their pregnancy curbed the chances of premature delivery by 50 to 70 per cent. Also, experts in the field are of the opinion that during the 3rd and 4th week of your pregnancy, your baby’s brain and spinal cord are forming and hence it is pertinent that you should start consuming folate during that time if you haven’t already.
Folic acid could help you ward off various health conditions and protect your baby’s health too. It can prevent neural tube effects, autism in kids, miscarriage, low birth weight and premature birth. The March of Dimes Foundation report, already referred to, suggests that pregnant women with low levels of this vitamin are two to three times more vulnerable to give birth to a baby of low birth weight or have a premature delivery as compared to those who had sufficient amount of this vitamin in their body.