Whether you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, your OB/GYN has probably already asked you to start taking folic acid pills.
Folic acid plays a very important role in the growth and development of your fetus’s body and brain. Research has shown that taking the recommended dose of folic acid during your pregnancy may prevent certain birth defects.
What is folic acid?
Folic Acid is a B vitamin called folate which our body uses to produce new cells.
The recommended dose of folic acid before and during pregnancy is 400 micrograms per day and you should continue taking it until you are 12 weeks pregnant.
In addition to taking folic acid pills, you can find your source of folic acid in the following foods:
- Leafy green vegetables
- Dried beans and nuts
- Fortified cereals
- Pasta and noodles
What are the benefits of folic acid during pregnancy?
If you do not take the recommended dose of folic acid, your baby’s neural tube may not close properly leading to two birth defects:
- Spina Bifida: Your baby’s spinal cord may not be completely developed and this may lead to physical disabilities.
- Anencephaly: Major parts of your baby’s brain may not develop completely and babies with this condition do not survive.
Taking folic acid during pregnancy also protects your baby against the following conditions:
- Cleft lip and cleft palate: These are birth defects in which the baby’s lips/mouth do not close properly because there is not enough tissue in the area.
- Premature birth: Giving birth before your due date may cause your baby to have complications.
- Congenital heart defects: These kinds of defects affect the baby’s heart function.
- Some sources also claim that taking the recommended dose of folic acid during pregnancy may prevent Autism in your babies
- Folic acid during pregnancy also reduces the mother’s risk of developing heart diseases, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia.
Birth defects usually occur in the first months of your pregnancy, therefore taking folic acid early in your pregnancy is extremely vital to prevent any complications or defects.
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