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The Importance of Folic Acid in Pregnancy

For women planning to become pregnant or who are already pregnant, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by what to eat, what not to eat, which vitamins to take and to make sure your body is prepared for a new tenant! Plus it may seem like the advice and lists change constantly. 

One thing that hasn’t changed is the importance of folic acid. Folic acid, also known as vitamin B-9 or folate, is important for all of us to take for red blood cell formation and DNA production. However, it is especially important to take it if you are planning to get pregnant or are pregnant.

Folic acid contributes to the healthy growth of a baby’s organs. Taking folic acid before you become pregnant will help prevent birth defects like spina bifida, which is when a baby’s spinal cord doesn’t fully develop and close properly while in the womb. This can lead to nerve and spinal cord damage. In severe cases spina bifida can result in paralysis in the lower body. Folic acid has other benefits like assisting in the formation of the baby’s heart and circulatory system. 

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends pregnant women take at least 600 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid is found in many common foods including leafy greens, broccoli, cereal and beets. Fruits such as oranges, bananas and strawberries are also high in folic acid. But, even if you consistently eat many of these foods, it can still be difficult to consume the recommended daily allowance of folic acid. That’s why doctors often recommend taking a prenatal vitamin each and every day to get the sufficient daily dose of folic acid. If you have morning sickness or a sensitive stomach, take the prenatal vitamins with food.

Finally, be careful, you don’t want to overdo it. It is recommended to not go over 1,000 micrograms of folic acid each day. Too much folic acid can cause unmetabolized folic acid to build up in the body, which can be harmful to your health.

Please talk to us or consult with your healthcare provider on how much folic acid is right for you and your personal situation. 

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