Benefits of Folic Acid during Pregnancy
Pregnancy brings with it lots of changes that need to be made, one of the most important of which is to watch what you put in your body. But this can become a problem, especially with all the “advice” and “tips” out there that just end up confusing you. You need to decide what is right for you and your baby.
What is consumed is almost as important as what is not consumed, as our diets don’t always reach our bodies’ nutritional needs, needs which change once you are with child. Pregnant women need more of certain vitamins. Prenatal vitamins and supplements enriched with Vitamin D and other nutrients can be immensely helpful in preparing your body to be ready to conceive and support it throughout the pregnancy. Finding vitamins and supplements with sufficient folic acid is particularly important to women who are not yet pregnant, and to those that are.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate, which is naturally found in food, but also in supplements. For women over the age of 19, the recommended dietary allowance for folate is 400 mcg per day. During pregnancy, the recommendation increases to 600 mcg per day and decreases slightly to 500 mcg during lactation.
Preventing birth defects
In the first few weeks of pregnancy, embryonic development is fast. Nerves and organs begin to grow, and the neural tube forms, paving the way for later development of the brain and spinal cord. At this stage in the baby’s development, a folate deficiency could result in a defect in the neural tube, which is what becomes the baby’s spine. Neural tube defects (NTDs) are defects that negatively affect the spinal cord, spine, and brain, and can result in spina bifida or anencephaly.
When to start taking Folic Acid supplements
Women of childbearing age are recommended to supplement with 400 mcg of folic acid at least one month before conceiving and during the first four weeks of pregnancy, which can prevent up to 70% of NTDs, the risk of which is highest during the first few weeks of pregnancy. Once the neural tube is closed, the protective effects of folic acid supplementation wear off. Because the neural tubes close so early in pregnancy all women of childbearing age are strongly encouraged to supplement with 400 mcg folic acid daily to reduce the risk of NTDs. Timing is key to its protective effects.
Some research also suggests that vitamin C may boost folate absorption, so try taking it with your vitamin C or vitamin-C-rich foods.
If you’re planning on getting pregnant
For those of you who are planning on getting pregnant sometime soon, begin taking a prenatal vitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid at least three months before trying.
Besides taking vitamins and supplements, here are whole natural foods high in folate:
- 1 cup romaine lettuce 64 mcg/serving
- 4 spears of boiled asparagus 89 mcg/serving
- ½ cup boiled spinach 131 mcg/serving
- ½ cup black-eyed peas 105 mcg/serving
- 1 serving fortified breakfast cereal 100 mcg/serving
Even though you may have a good diet, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients you and your baby need from food alone. Luckily, Yoxa Low GI Shakes are perfect for this role. Yoxa Shakes are high in fibre and have a high enough nutritional value, when taken with fat-free milk, to be regarded as a meal replacement. These gluten-free shakes contain Essential Sugars (“Glyco-Nutrients”) and provide energy without fattening. These cholesterol-free supplement shakes stop cravings and help control blood sugar levels.
Remember, good nutrition is fundamental to a healthy pregnancy.