Stanley Angus MD always recommends that if you’re pregnant or might become pregnant, folic acid—or the synthetic form of vitamin B9—needs to be a crucial part of your diet.
Stanley Angus loves sharing pregnancy health tips with women and is here to provide some more information on folic acid and its many benefits.
The main advantage of taking folic acid while pregnant is that it helps prevent neural tube defects. NTDs are serious birth defects of the spinal cord and brain. They affect about 3,000 pregnancies a year. These birth defects typically happen in the very early stages of prenatal development, which is why it’s important for pregnant women to start taking folic acid supplements and eating foods that are high in folic acid before even trying to conceive. Research also suggests that folic acid can help lower your baby’s risk of other birth defects such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain types of heart defects. It also decreases the chance of preeclampsia, a serious blood pressure disorder that affects about 5 percent of pregnant women.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that women who take the recommended daily dose of folic acid starting at least one month before they become pregnant and during the first trimester of pregnancy reduce their baby’s risk of NTDs by 70 percent.
So how much is the right daily dose of folic acid? Stanley Angus MD and other pregnancy experts typically recommend taking 400 micrograms of folic acid a day beginning at least one month before trying to become pregnant. This amount can be boosted up to 600 mcg once you become pregnant.
Enriched grain products, such as breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, and rice are also good sources of folic acid to add to your everyday diet. Other foods that are high in folic acid include lentils, dried beans, peas, nuts, avocado, dark green vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, collard greens, turnips, okra, Brussel sprouts, and asparagus, as well as citrus fruit and juice. However, research has shown that the body absorbs folic acid from supplements better than it does from food, so these foods should be viewed as an addition to the supplement you’re taking.
Be sure to check back for more pregnancy tips from Stanley Angus MD, and don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Stanley Angus if you are looking for an experienced and trusted Ob/Gyn in the Atlanta area.