The Importance of Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Folic acid, a synthetic B vitamin, is a nutrient that’s absolutely vital to the healthy growth and development of a baby in the early weeks and first trimester of pregnancy. We take a closer look at the benefits of folic acid for pregnancy and how to ensure it’s included in your diet via natural supplements and other means.
Folic acid is instrumental in protein creation, use, and breakdown in the body. It also helps the body to create DNA and form red blood cells. During the first few weeks of pregnancy, folic acid helps to close the embryo’s neural tube.
When proper closure occurs, a baby’s spinal cord and brain development can continue in a healthy direction. Not only that, but folic acid also helps the baby’s circulatory system and heart to form. Finally, the risk of a baby developing birth defects decreases significantly when folic acid is introduced in the months prior to becoming pregnant.
Folic Acid vs. Folate
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate, and it is typically found in fortified foods and nutritional supplements. Folate, on the other hand, exists naturally in animal and plant foods. Because both nutrients offer so many benefits to both mom and baby, it’s essential to include both in your diet if you are or plan to become pregnant.
Where to Find Folate and Folic Acid
Folate is found in kale, broccoli, spinach, avocado, beef liver, and eggs. Multivitamins like Maternal Symmetry, cereals, pasta, rice, and bread are all typical products fortified with folic acid. However, folate is water-soluble. It doesn’t remain in the body; instead, any unused folate exits the body through urine. Therefore, ensuring sufficient amounts of folate is crucial.
On the other hand, consuming folic acid during pregnancy ensures high absorbability by the body, especially if these foods or supplements are consumed on an empty stomach.
When Should You Start Taking Folic Acid, and at What Dose?
CDC guidelines state that 0.4-.08 milligrams or 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of a folic acid supplement like Pregnancy Prep should be taken daily for at least one month before becoming pregnant. However, they also recommend that any women of reproductive age should be taking this amount of folic acid daily. Daily amounts of folic acid should not exceed 1000 micrograms.1
WebMD states the following CDC recommendations for folic acid intake:
- 400 mcg during the first three months of pregnancy
- 600 mcg daily between months four and nine of pregnancy
- 400 mcg of Lactation Blend or similar supplement daily while breastfeeding2
The Right Supplements Are Essential
Pregnancy is an incredibly demanding experience for the body. Every woman’s folic acid needs vary, so it’s best to speak with your doctor before beginning supplementation. However, when you’re ready to start taking folic acid, you want to be sure that you are taking a superior product for maximum nourishment.
Forrest Health offers researched nutritional supplements for optimum health. Learn more today by calling 408-354-4262.