Nutrition Infos

How important is folic acid for a woman’s diet before and during pregnancy?

For optimal outcome of pregnancy, all vitamins and minerals are essential . There are cases where the requirements can be met through diet. But sometimes a supplement, starting before conception, is often necessary.

Folic acid is a vitamin of the B group, essential for healthy fetal development in early pregnancy. Women of childbearing age should take extra folic acid daily to prevent abnormalities of the fetal neural tube, such as spina bifida. Folic acid, taken before conception and during the first few weeks of pregnancy, can prevent seven out of ten cases of neural tube defects.

What are the benefits of folic acid?

Without enough folic acid in your body, a baby’s neural tube may not close properly and may develop health problems called neural tube defects. These include:
Spina bifida: incomplete development of the spinal cord or vertebrae
Anencephaly: incomplete development of important parts of the brain
Folic acid, when taken before and during pregnancy, can also protect the mother and baby from: Premature birth Low birth weight Miscarriage “Poor” uterine development

Which foods are rich in folic acid?

Vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, zucchini)
fruit (avocado, grapefruit, orange, grapefruit)
legumes (chickpeas, soybeans, beans, lentils)
eggs
nuts
juices (mainly apple and orange)
It is important to note that folic acid dissolves in water and is easily destroyed by cooking. Therefore, steaming is the best way to maximize the intake of folic acid by the body.

What do the references say?

The recommended daily allowance of folic acid for adults is 400 micrograms (mcg). Adult women who are planning a pregnancy or could become pregnant should be advised to take 400 to 1,000 mcg of folic acid a day.
Sources:
1. Krause and Mahans Food the Nutrition Care Process, 15e by L. Kathleen Mahan MS RD CDE, Janice L Raymond MS RD CD
2. https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/folate-and-pregnancy
3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-folate/art-20364625

Thank you Restart Diet for the article.

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