Folic acid is water soluble vitamin of the vitamin B complex, essential for the mother’s and baby’s health. What is it good for? How should it be taken? What foods contain this vitamin naturally?
The nutritional status of women before and during pregnancy influences the growth and development of the fetus. Folic acid is recommended by the physician because it is an essential vitamin for the growth of cells as well as the production and repair of DNA. Those women who are pregnant or looking for pregnancy are suggested to make folic acid as an essential daily intake into their diets before pregnancy because it can prevent some diseases in the future baby and avoid premature birth. Folic acid primarily prevents defects of the neural tube – from which the nervous system originates – which occurs in the early development of the fetus even before they discover being pregnant.
This vitamin is fundamental for the normal production of red blood cells. Deficiency of this vitamin can lead to complications such as anemia and serious birth defects in the spinal cord and brain of the fetus.
Although some nutrients are naturally rich in this vitamin, they do not have the necessary daily amount intake of this vitamin so it is recommended to take folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy.
How much folic acid do we need?
Given that each patient requires specific medical instructions, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine advises that all women should take approximately 400 micrograms of folic acid supplements per day from the day they start preparing for pregnancy until the first trimester.
Folic acid in food
In addition to the supplements, there are several foods that contain this essential nutrient. For instance, green leafy vegetables (spinach, chard) as well as legumes (lentils), citrus fruits and whole grains are foods with highest amount of folic acid.
However, even if a woman includes these foods in her diet, she will not be able to obtain the required amount of this vitamin in this way: most of folates contained in these foods are eliminated through storage or by cooking them. For this reason, the specialists point out that it is extremely important combining acid folic supplements with a healthy diet rich in Vitamin B9.