Find out About Folic Acid

Heather J. Mills folic_border

Every mother wants a healthy baby. One way to help your child (or the baby you plan to have) is to make sure you are consuming enough folic acid.

What does folic acid do?

During the first weeks of pregnancy, folic acid is critical. When consumed before and during the earliest stages of pregnancy, folic acid can work to prevent up to 70% of neural tube defects (i.e. spina bifida).

Since half of pregnancies are unplanned, you may not even know that you’re pregnant by the time this window has closed. This is why it’s important to always maintain a healthy diet (especially if you are trying to conceive), and supplement with vitamins.

So what exactly IS folic acid?

A B-vitamin that aids in the production of red blood cells, folic acid helps the body produce healthy new cells and prevents anemia. It aids the development of the fetus’s brain, spine and skull.

What’s the difference between folate and folic acid?

Folate and folic acid are essentially the same, just in different forms. Folic acid is what you find in supplements and vitamins. Folate is naturally-occurring folic acid – what you find in vegetables and nuts. Cooking causes folate to leach out, so eating these items raw ensures the best absorption of folate.

Although a well-balanced diet will give you folic acid, taking a multi-vitamin ensures that you get your daily intake as well as other essential vitamins. Make sure that your vitamin has enough folic acid; switching to a prenatal vitamin is also an option.

The benefits of folic acid aren’t just for babies in the womb: some studies show that folic acid can help prevent certain cancers and strokes in adults.

How much?

The recommended daily intake of folic acid is 0.6 milligrams per day for pregnant women, although some doctors suggest upwards of 0.8mg/day.

What foods contain folate/ folic acid?

Beans (fava, kidney, lima, soy)
Chick Peas
Orange juice (from concentrate)
Enriched pasta and breads
Romaine lettuce
Fortified cereals
Folic Acid supplements

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