When you get pregnant, your need for certain nutrients increases. For example, a pregnant woman needs at least 600 mcg of folic acid every day.
A healthy pregnancy will help you have a healthy baby. Everyone should eat a healthy diet high in nutrients, but it is more important for pregnant women to ensure the normal growth and development of the baby. Prior to conception and during pregnancy, it’s critical to consume adequate vitamins and minerals. When a woman is pregnant, her need for certain nutrients (such as folic acid, iron, calcium, and vitamin D) increases.
Getting enough folic acid daily is one of the most crucial strategies to help avoid significant birth problems in your child. Folic acid is really important for women who are trying to conceive, who may get pregnant, and who are currently pregnant.
Why is folic acid essential for pregnant women?
Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate (vitamin B9) that your body uses to synthesise DNA and create new cells. This vitamin is necessary for regular development and growth throughout your life. Folate is found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, fruits, seafood, dried beans, peas, and nuts. It’s synthetic form or folic acid is added to foods (enriched breads, cereals and other grain products) and also available as a dietary supplement.
Folic acid supplementation is very important before and throughout pregnancy for the baby’s healthy organ development.
According to research, folic acid supplements taken before conception may help reduce birth abnormalities, including significant neural tube disorders like spina bifida, encephalocele, and anencephaly.
How much folic acid pregnant women need daily?
A pregnant woman needs to consume at least 600 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. This recommended dose is present in most prenatal supplements. You should start taking folic acid as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. Many times, it takes 6 weeks or longer for a woman to know she is pregnant. The first month of pregnancy is when neural tube abnormalities typically arise, frequently before you even know you’re expecting. Continue taking the supplement until 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Women who are of reproductive age or who intend to get pregnant should be taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily to ensure that their body contains enough folic acid to reduce the risk of neural tube abnormalities in babies.
Tips to ensure adequate intake of folic acid intake during pregnancy
Before becoming pregnant and up until you are 12 weeks along, it is crucial to take the required amount of folic acid every day. If you didn’t start taking folic acid supplement before conceiving, do it so as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
Try to consume green leafy vegetables, which are rich in folate (folic acid’s natural form), as well as folic acid-fortified morning cereals and fat spreads. Foods that naturally contain a lot of folic acid’s natural form are:
- Black-eyed peas
- Orange juice
- Brussels sprouts
Because it’s challenging to obtain the required quantity of folate for a healthy pregnancy from diet alone, it’s crucial to take a folic acid supplement.
Importance of Vitamin D And Iron during pregnancy
Pregnant women also need 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day. Our body produces vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight. But it is recommended to take a supplement containing the required amount of vitamin D between September and March (when we do not make enough vitamin D from sunlight).
Vitamin D is also found in some foods such as oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines), eggs and red meat. But it is difficult to get adequate Vitamin D from foods alone.
Iron during pregnancy: If you don’t get enough iron during pregnancy, you’ll probably feel extremely fatigued and might get anaemia. Iron may be found in lean meat, nuts, dried fruit, and green, leafy vegetables. You can consume peanuts or products containing them (like peanut butter) while pregnant as long as they are part of a healthy diet and you’re not allergic to them or your doctor has advised against it.
Iron is also added several morning cereals. A doctor or midwife would suggest taking iron supplements if the level of iron in your blood drops.
Discuss with your doctor for proper folic acid dosage
Folic acid is essential for everybody, but pregnant women need it more. The proper folic acid dosage should be discussed with a healthcare professional by those who are trying to get pregnant. A folic acid test can be used by women who are already pregnant to find out how much folic acid is present in their blood. The outcome may reveal the likelihood of having a child with neural tube abnormalities.