Folic Acid is one of the B vitamins. It is found in a variety of foods such as some breads and breakfast cereals, oranges, broccoli, green leafy vegetables and yeast.
Why is folic acid so important?
Research has shown that women should take folic acid once they plan to become pregnant, and continue to take it throughout pregnancy, this will help reduce the risk of the baby having neural tube defect. This is an abnormality caused by failure of the brain and spinal cord to develop properly. One of these defects is called Spina Bifida. Because babies spines form in the earliest stages of pregnancy, women need to take extra folic acid as soon as they plan to become pregnant or if there is any chance they may become pregnant.
Does folic acid have other benefits?
Like all vitamins, folic acid is essential for the body to work properly. New research has shown that folic acid may help to prevent other malformations in babies as well as reducing the risk of heart diseases in babies and mothers
Can folic acid be harmful?
At the recommended doses folic acid is not harmful to you or your baby.
Where can you get folic acid supplements?
You can easily buy folic acid in pharmacies and health food shops. Your doctor can also prescribe folic acid for you.
How do you get enough folic acid?
It is very difficult to get enough folic acid from your diet alone. You should choose foods that contain folic acid by eating those mentioned above. You can learn more about the folic acid contents of your selections by reading the nutrition labels on package foods.If you are planning to become pregnant, or if there is a possibility you could be pregnant, you should take a supplement of folic acid every day. This supplement should contain 400 micrograms of folic acid.
Have you had a previous pregnancy affected by spina bifida? Is there a history of it in your family?
If so, it is recommended that you increase your intake of folic acid to 4000 micrograms daily, beginning at least one month before conception and continuing for the first 3 months of our pregnancy.