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Folic acid for pregnant women

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Folic acid or vitamin B 9 is one of those vitamins that are utmost essential for women during their pregnancy. The demand of folic acid is high when the baby is developing inside the womb and natural resources are just not enough.

Why folic acid is important for pregnant women?

Although every individual needs folic acid, it is particularly important for women who are planning to have a baby. Folic acid helps in synthesis of red blood cells and genetic material (DNA). It prevents anaemia and helps to deal with pregnancy symptoms like tiredness, fatigue, etc.

When a woman gets adequate dose of folic acid, her baby is protected against neural tube defects (NTDs) like spina bifida. It’s a condition wherein the spinal column doesn’t enclose the spinal cord due to which babies develop several disabilities for lifetime.

Another condition that could be fatal for the baby immediately after birth due to insufficient folic acid in the mother’s body is - anencephaly (the brain doesn’t form completely).

Apart from these, chances of having other birth defects are minimized with consumption folic acid during pregnancy.

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When to start taking folic acid?

Every woman can have multivitamins containing folic acid

If you are planning for pregnancy, then your doctor would prescribe multivitamins and may be a separate dose of folic acid as well.

It’s important to start taking folic acid during the early stage of pregnancy because birth defects occur mostly in the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy, i.e. when the baby’s spinal cord and brain start developing.

You need to continue taking the folic acid supplements throughout your gestation period.

How much folic acid is needed for pregnant women?

Usually 400 mcg/day should be sufficient when you take it regularly. After conception of the baby the recommended dose is increased between 500-800 mcg.

The dosage is usually not exceeded over 1000 mcg unless you have a medical condition

Women who had previously given birth to a baby with spina bifida and are planning for next pregnancy need folic acid as high as 4000 mcg/day.

Do I need to consult doctor for taking folic acid during pregnancy?

Definitely yes! You cannot pop in any pill without consulting your doctor. You need to take only that tablet or supplement recommended by him/her.

Continue until your doctor asks you to stop it.

Folic acid is usually given in conjunction with vitamin B 12.

How to boost folic acid intake naturally?

You can definitely nourish yourself and your baby with folic acid by consuming foods enriched with it. Eat lots of leafy green like spinach, lettuce, asparagus, and broccoli, legumes, black beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils, oranges, grapefruits, peanuts, sunflower seeds, etc.

Folic acid fortified foods like pasta, bread, rice and other types of cereals help to obtain folate naturally.

Are there any side effects of folic acid supplements on pregnant women?

No. The vitamin supplements do not have any side effect. However, if a woman has been over drugged then possible symptoms could be sleep problems, low blood sugar and seizures. This is uncommon since your doctor will consider evaluating your health before deciding the dose.

If you are planning to get pregnant, see your doctor right away and start taking folic acid to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Written by: healthplus24.com, team
Date last updated: Februrary 24, 2014 

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