Folic acid aka Folate is a B vitamin that plays a pertinent role in producing red blood cells and helps baby’s neural tube develop into his or her brain and spinal cord.
Because birth defects usually occur within the 1st month of pregnancy, it is important to have sufficient folic acid before conception and during the first trimester.
Experts recommend that you should start taking folic acid when you are trying to conceive or atleast a month before getting pregnant and during pregnancy.
The recommended dosage is 400mcg (micrograms) daily.
Folic acid helps prevent Neural tube defects – serious birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
If you don’t have sufficient folic acid in your body, your baby could develop serious health problems called Neural tube defects like:
Spina bifida : incomplete development of the spinal cord or vetebrae
Anencephaly : incomplete development of major parts of the brain.
Folic acid could also protect your your baby against: Cleft lip & palate, low birth weight, premature birth, miscarriage , certain heart defects.
Babies with spina bifida may be permanently disabled and those with anencephaly may not live long.
It is also advised to consume foods rich in folic acid. Some food sources of folic acid are: dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, okro etc; lentils, citrus fruits and juice, some cereals are also fortified with folate as well.
Bear in mind that some folate can be lost during storage or by cooking, and it is difficult to get the recommended amount of folate for pregnancy, hence it is important to still take your folic acid supplements.
From the above, we can see that the importance of Folic acid cannot be over-emphasized.
Folic acid is like a pregnancy superhero!!
Take your Vitamins today:)
Source: WebMD, Baby Center, NHS UK.