What is Folic Acid and Why is it Important to Pregnant Women

What is Folic Acid and Why is it Important to Pregnant Women?

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What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is a nutrient that is needed in order to produce healthy red and white blood cells, especially during pregnancy. Folic acid is a type of vitamin B present in leafy vegetables, fruits, beans and grains. It is crucial for the healthy development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Folic acid is a B vitamin that comes from the Latin word folium, meaning leaf. Folic acid was first discovered by Lucy Wills.

The name ‘folate’ was used for the substance until it was discovered that it could not be synthesized by animals and had to come from our diet. ‘Folate’ means leaf, because it was first found in green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach.

The proper intake of folic acid has been shown to reduce the risks of neural tube defects (NTDs) in infants – such as spina bifida – during early development in the womb.

What Are Neural Tube Defects?

Neural tube defects refer to a group of birth defects in which the neural tube (a structure that forms the spine and brain) does not close all the way.

Neural tube defects can occur when the fetus is developing, usually during the first 28 days following conception. The most common types of neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly.

What are the Risks Associated With Not Getting Enough Folate in Pregnancy?

One of the risks associated with not getting enough folate during pregnancy is a neural tube defect. It is important to not just get your folate through diet but also from supplements.

Other Risk factor, A lack of folate in pregnancy can lead to major complications in terms of neurological development, heart disease, and reproductive difficulties.

Folate supplements are essential for pregnant women to reduce the risk of birth defects. As long as you make sure you’re taking in enough, this vitamin can reduce the risk of major birth defects by 30%.

Benefits of Consuming More Folic Acid in Pregnancy

Folic acid is important for pregnant women and their developing babies. It can help prevent serious birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

Pregnant women should take more folic acid to protect their babies from serious birth defects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 600 micrograms of folic acid a day during pregnancy, especially in the first few weeks.

Folic acid benefits are also significant for both mothers and fathers.

✅ Reduce the risk of birth defects

✅ Reducing the risk of neural tube defects

✅ Reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart attack.

✅ Helps in babies mental development and prevents autism spectrum disorder.

How Much Folic Acid Should You Take in Pregnancy?

It is highly recommended that pregnant women take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, most notably in the first few weeks. This should be continued until pregnancy is complete.

Folic acid (400 micrograms) is an essential nutrient which can help prevent birth defects like spina bifida during pregnancy. It is important to start taking it before you are even pregnant, and continue throughout your entire pregnancy.

The state of the fetus’ neural tube depends on folic acid intake during the first weeks of pregnancy– between 3 to 7 days after conception– when the neural tube will close up permanently.

It is recommended for pregnant women to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, as this can help lower their risk of having a baby with neural tube defects such as spina bifida.

It is important to have a well-balanced diet that includes all the essential nutrients like Vitamin A, C, E, calcium magnesium, potassium to make sure that you are getting enough folic acid in your daily routine.

Good sources of folic acid, you should take

Some good food sources of folic acid include:

  • Leafy greens like spinach and kale
  • Certain whole grains like oatmeal and barley
  • Avocado
  • Beans, lentils, and other legumes (Beans: ½ cup cooked beans = 193 mcg RDI)
  • Dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt (yogurt -1 cup plain yogurt = 400 mcg RDI)
  • Oats: 1 cup (6½ ounces) dry oats = 884 mcg RDI

How Dr. Astha Dayal helps in Pregnancy care?

Dr. Astha Dayal is a gynecologist and an obstetrician in gurgaon who is known for her clinical skills and her understanding of the many facets of pregnancy care.

She has been in practice for over 19 years and she has gained expertise in women’s health, family medicine, reproductive health, gynecology, obstetrics, prenatal care, diabetic care and more. Dr. Astha Dayal aims to provide holistic services to the women who visit her clinic so that they can have a healthy pregnancy that would result in a beautiful baby.

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