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Why is folic acid important before and during pregnancy?

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The Medical Perspective: Folic Acid in Pregnancy

One thing that most doctors advise to ladies planning a pregnancy or to expecting mothers is the importance of folic Acid. A generic version of folate, aids in the formation of red blood cells and helps develops the baby’s neural tube into their brain and spinal cord. Prenatal vitamins with the necessary 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid can help prevent birth abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord in your baby. 

Understanding the importance of folic acid before and during pregnancy

Folic acid aids the correct closure of the embryonic neural tube, which is the precursor to your baby’s brain and spinal cord during the first few weeks of pregnancy. It also supports the development of your baby’s heart and circulatory system, as well as lowering the risk of some birth abnormalities. As folic acid is water-soluble, your body can’t keep too much of it.

Instead, it passes through your urine, which is why you need to obtain enough folic acid in your diet daily to avoid a deficit when pregnant. Because most birth abnormalities appear in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it’s critical to obtain adequate folic acid as soon as possible.

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The Things that Folic Acid can Save Pregnant Mothers From

The advantages of folic acid are numerous. Several studies have shown that starting this nutrient in the months leading up to pregnancy has significant health benefits for pregnant women and their kids. These include lowering the chances of:

  • Miscarriage. According to research, folic acid deficiency has been linked to difficulties in conceiving and maintaining pregnancy in certain women.
  • Defects in the neural tube Spina bifida, (a spinal deformity), anencephaly, (a type of brain injury), and Chiari malformation, which causes brain tissue to expand into the spinal canal, are three birth abnormalities associated with folic acid deficiency.
  • Heart defects are present at birth. A hole in the heart’s wall, too-narrow valves, or improperly formed blood arteries are among the problems afflicting 40,000 newborns each year.
  • Preterm labour is when a baby is born prematurely. A folic acid-rich diet may assist in reducing the risk of preterm labour before 37 weeks.
  • Cleft lip and palate are a kind of cleft lip and palate. Folic acid may help avoid this oral problem, which is characterised by an opening in the lip that does not develop properly.

The amount of folic acid required

As soon as you decide to try for a baby, you should start taking a daily folic acid pill of 400 micrograms (mcg continuing to take it for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy). 400 mcg pills can be found at health food stores and high-street pharmacies. You should also consume a lot of folic acid-rich meals. Fortified grains are known to be one of the greatest suppliers of folic acid.

In addition, dark green veggies and citrus fruits are high in folate.Some drugs may hinder your body from absorbing folic acid. If you have epilepsy and are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor. Women with a high body mass index (BMI) have decreased folate levels in their blood. If you have a BMI of over 30 or diabetes, you’re more likely to have a kid with an NTD.

If you’re overweight or have diabetes, you should take a more significant amount of folic acid (5 mg). As soon as you decide to try for a baby, ask your doctor about the folic acid requirement.

Where to get folic acid from?

There are a few ways pregnant women can meet their daily folic acid requirements, such as taking a folic acid supplement and eating lots of food that is high in folates. Other nutrients that you and your baby require are also included in these meals. Include some of the following folate-rich items in your diet:

  • Brussels sprouts 
  • spinach
  • beans, black-eyed
  • asparagus
  • broccoli
  • Baked potatoes
  • flakes of bran
  • tinned salmon yeast 
  • extract hard-boiled eggs
  • an orange or orange juice
  • rice (brown)
  • bread made from grains

Take no vitamin A pills or any other vitamin A-containing supplements, such as liver or fish oil in the first three months of pregnancy as larger doses of vitamin A can cause developmental difficulties.

How is Nurturey helping women through their pregnancy journey?

Nurturey PinkBook is the smartest digital upgrade for the NHS paper red book. It is intended for parents of young children as well as pregnant mothers. Nurturey’s PinkBook intuitive tools help you feel informed, engaged, and confident as you manage the path of your baby’s health during pregnancy. Nurturey’s PinkBook app has tools that help pregnant women and their families to keep track of their health events.

PinkBook pregnancy tools like Prenatal tests help keep track of all the tests and scans that must be done during pregnancy. Nurturey’s PinkBook also delivers trusted information straight from NHS servers, which helps pregnant moms prepare for their checkups, weekly baby growth and change in symptoms. 

Conclusion

It is suggested that women of childbearing age, including those who plan to have a baby, take folic acid supplements. This is because the first few weeks of a baby’s existence are when they develop the fastest- often during the time when they aren’t aware of their pregnancy. Folic acid is essential for everyone’s proper growth and development, but it’s especially crucial for pregnant women.

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