Folic Acid and Pregnancy
“It is vital for every woman who expects to become pregnant to get 400 micrograms (400 mcg) of folic acid every day to prevent serious birth defects in your baby”
What Is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a water-soluble man-made form of vitamin B-9, also called folate. Folate plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby’s neural tube develop into her brain and spinal cord.
The best food sources of folic acid are fortified cereals. Folate is found naturally in dark green leafy vegetables, beans, dairy products and citrus fruits. Although present in these foods, it can be hard to get enough folic acid from diet alone for a desired pregnancy, so taking folic acid tablets is very important.
Why Folic Acid is Important?
Folate is required for everyone, but it plays a very crucial role for women who can get pregnant. Folate is essential as it is needed to make DNA and other genetic material and for the normal growth and development of your baby’s spine, brain, and skull, especially during the first four weeks of your pregnancy. It enables your infant’s neural tube to grow properly during pregnancy and ensures against neural tube defects (NTDs). It might likewise reduce the danger of different issues in the infant, for example, cleft lip and palate, heart and urinary tract defects, miscarriage, etc.
Is the Deficiency of Folic acid Serious?
- Folate helps to make new red blood cells, which carry oxygen to all the parts of our body. If enough RBCs aren’t made, one can develop megaloblastic anemia. Anemia is a red blood cell disorder that can cause symptoms of weakness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, headache, abnormal heartbeats, and shortness of breath
- Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid are at risk of giving birth to babies with neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
- Folic acid deficiency during pregnancy may also increase the risk of having a preterm birth or a low weight baby.
- Folic acid is necessary for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Therefore, folic acid deficiency may cause ulcers in the mouth, and changes in the color of the skin, hair, or fingernails.
Folic acid has also been recommended to overcome your risk of pregnancy complications, heart disease, stroke, some types of cancers.
Recommended Intake of Folic Acid for Men and Women
- All women (14 years and above), as well as men, need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.
- Women who can get pregnant should get 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid from a multivitamin tablet or from food that has added folic acid, such as a breakfast cereal. This is in addition to the folate you get naturally from food.
- Some women may need more folic acid each day, for example, a woman who had a baby with a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida) and want to get pregnant again should take 4,000 micrograms of folic acid. Your doctor may prescribe this amount. Research shows taking this amount may lower the risk of having another baby with spina bifida.
- For breastfeeding women, 500 mcg of folic acid is recommended.
How does Folic Acid Help Increase Fertility?
Folate is one of the most important supplements to prepare your body for pregnancy. Folic acid is known to be great for fertility.
Folic Acid and Female Fertility
Folic acid can have a convincing effect on female reproductive capacity. In fact, specially formulated folic acid supplements are usually recommended to women who are planning to conceive, whether they struggle with infertility issues or not. These supplements, along with foods rich in folate and folic acid, must be regularly taken immediately upon the decision to seek pregnancy, and preferably several months before conception occurs.
A folic acid routined prescription is particularly important to women with pregnancy problems during their fertility treatment. Not just it helps improves & promote fertility, but it also helps reduce the stress that causes the body to need more folate. Even when the pregnancy is achieved, folic acid remains vital, particularly during the first few four weeks, as it reduces the risk of miscarriage and congenital defects.
Folic Acid and Male Fertility
Folic acid can actually improve the quality of a man’s sperm while lowering the risk of sperm abnormalities that could interfere with conception. When a man’s sperm count is low, there won’t be enough sperm to travel and fertilize the egg because the pathway is long. In a study conducted by a Netherlands-based medical University, Folic acid boosts fertility in men by around 74%.
Opting nutritional supplements, minimizing medication use and achieving a healthy pre-pregnancy weight, all help ensures the chance of delivering a healthy baby. When it comes to promoting fertility, not to mention a healthy pregnancy resulting in a healthy child, folic acid is an absolute necessity.