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Pregnancy Tips: Take Folic Acid

Pregnancy Tips: Take Folic Acid


Folic acid, taken in the diet or as a supplement, is extremely vital in creating a fertile environment before and after getting pregnant. At least, 0.4mg of folic acid should be taken every day if you want to become a mother. Folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) is a vitamin which helps grow and protect cells in your body. It is found in some foods and in multivitamin supplements.

Why is folic acid important during preconception and pregnancy?
Your body needs folic acid when cells are growing and dividing very quickly. This happens during pregnancy as your uterus (womb) expands, the placenta develops, your body circulates more blood, and the fetus grows. Because of this, folic acid is important for a healthy pregnancy.

As your body grows, your baby is also growing very quickly. Maintaining healthy eating habits such as meals which have proper levels of vitamins and minerals (e.g. folic acid) before conception /during pregnancy helps decrease the risk of some birth defects. Folic acid lowers the risk of birth defects such as neural tube defects (NTDs), heart and limb defects, urinary tract anomalies, narrowing of the lower stomach valve, and oral facial clefts (like cleft lip and cleft palate).

Taking a folic acid supplement is crucial. By taking 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid a day for at least one month before you conceive and during your first trimester helps prevent birth defects.

How can I get enough folic acid?
Folic acid is found in dark green, leafy vegetables, citrus fruit, whole grains, and other foods. Here is a list of some foods that are recommended sources of folic acid: fortified grains, spinach, lentils, chickpeas, asparagus, broccoli, peas, corn, and oranges. Making sure you get enough folic acid every day from food is a challenge. That’s why it’s also recommended to take multivitamin with folic acid to ensure you get the amount you and your baby need.

When should I take folic acid supplements?
Since folic acid is so important in the early stages of pregnancy, start taking a multivitamin with folic acid if you are trying to conceive. It’s important to get your daily dose of folic acid even before you become pregnant. Continue through pregnancy and for at least four to six weeks after birth and as long as you are breastfeeding.

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