It is crucial for moms-to-be to have a balanced, nutritious diet to ensure the growth of their baby. If you are a mom-to-be or planning a baby, we are sure you must have heard of folic acid.
Folic acid is a B vitamin, a synthetic version of folate which is helpful in producing new, healthy red blood cells in your body. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the parts of your body. Not having enough red blood cells would mean that the body is unable to carry enough oxygen across the body and this could hamper the growth of the baby.
Importance Of Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Shalini Chakraborty, Senior Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru (Bellandur) shared, "Especially in the first few weeks of pregnancy, it is essential to consume folic acid. It helps the embryonic neural tube, the precursor to the fetus's brain and spinal cord, to properly close. Folic acid further assists the formation of the baby's heart and circulatory system."
The expert further shared that folic acid is water-soluble and doesn't get stored in our body in excess. It gets passed through the urine and thus it is important for the mom-to-be to have it in a good amount regularly.
Benefits Of Consuming Folic Acid During Pregnancy
According to a lot of researches folic acid can benefit the mom-to-be and baby in different ways. Regular consumption of folic acid helps in reducing the risk of the following:
- Congenital heart defects
- Preterm labour
- Neural tube defects
- Cleft lip and palate
Ways To Add Folic Acid To Diet
Though folic acid can be easily added to the diet by consuming supplements, there is a range of food sources that are rich in folate.
Some best food sources of folate are:
- Dark leafy green vegetables such as mustard greens, broccoli, lettuce, asparagus, spinach
- Legumes - beans and lentils
- Green peas
- Whole-grain cereal
If taking supplements, the expert shared that women should take 400mcg supplement everyday or before conception. If one is consuming multivitamin tablets then they should ensure that it doesn't have vitamin A or it can lead to development problems during the first trimester of pregnancy.
She further shared that taking folic acid after discovering that one is pregnant may not be soon enough. Many women don't realise that they are pregnant until 6 weeks of pregnancy or more after conception.
The expert further shared that folic acid should be consumed prior to planning the baby or conception. This is crucial in cases where there is a medical history of delivering a child with neural tube defect. She further shared that a high dose of folic acid should be consumed if the mom-to-be has a history of:
- Liver disease
- Consumes alcohol
- Kidney disease or on dialysis
- Type 2 diabetes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Takes medication to treat epilepsy, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis
The expert furthermore suggested consulting a doctor to ensure the consumption of the correct dose of the prenatal vitamin because consuming too many supplements can be toxic for the baby. It is thus important for the mom-to-be to consult a nutritionist to ensure what are the best food sources for them and in what quantity should they be consuming it.
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