With the onset of pregnancy, a series of unforeseen physiological changes kick in a woman’s body. From changes in hormonal levels to physical developments- such a woman undergoes myriads of changes in the next 10 months! Regardless of race, ethnicity or body type, a pregnant woman needs to intake vital nutrients for proper fetus development during various stages of pregnancy. These nutrients can be consumed both through foods and supplements. Folic acid is among these vital nutrients a woman’s body requires during stages of pregnancy.
Why Is Folic Acid Important During Pregnancy
Vitamin B9, also called folate or folic acid is a nutrient a woman needs big time during days of pregnancy. It plays a pivotal role in red blood cell production in the human body. For a fetus, it is required for proper development of spinal cord and brain.
Inadequate intake of folic acid by a pregnant woman can lead to serious health complications for the baby. Such babies tend to develop neural tube defects like:
- Anencephaly- Incomplete brain part developments
- Spina bifida: Incomplete growth of the spinal chord
Babies afflicted with anencephaly have a shorter lifespan while those born with spina bifida are disabled from birth. Naturally, no woman would like to have babies born with such deformities and conditions.
Women who consume adequate amounts of folic acid during pregnancy can bring down such risks by as much as 70 percent. The daily required intake amount for women who have conceived is 400 micrograms though the doctors can recommend a little more at times. This can be required if the woman is taking certain types of medications. Folic acid intake in required amounts can also reduce risk of the following conditions:
- Premature birth
- Cleft lip and palate
- Low birth weight
Ways to intake folic acid
When you find that you are pregnant, it becomes absolutely necessary to include foods in your diet that are rich in folate. Examples of such folate rich foods are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Tinned salmon
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Brown rice
- Orange juice
Since folate gets dissolved in water, you may microwave or steam vegetables. Try not to overcook them as doing so can reduce the amount of folate in these foods. Ideally, women with an active sex life and childbearing age should eat intake for staying healthy. Besides, sometimes pregnancies are not planned and a woman requires some time to understand she is pregnant. So, in taking the required quantity of folic acid ensures safety for both the women and the fetuses.
For a section of women, eating foods containing folic acid may not be adequate. They may need a vitamin supplement to meet their daily intake limit for this nutrient. However, it is not recommended for such women to start taking supplements at any stage of pregnancy without talking to their doctors. Women with previous instances of giving birth to kids with neural tube defect should practice extra caution for their diet.