One of the first things you’ll hear medical professionals recommend when giving advice for a healthy pregnancy is to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of folic acid. This isn’t just good advice – it’s crucial. Many studies show that a folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can be linked to the most severe forms of preventable birth defects, particularly concerning an infant’s brain and spinal development. Read on to learn how folic acid benefits may make a difference to the health of you and your baby!
When to Take Folic Acid
Did you know that it’s actually recommended that women take a folic acid supplement (about 400 mcg) daily at least one month before they try to conceive?
It’s true! Folic acid benefits are extremely important during the first trimester, so you want to make sure you have a good solid routine built up before you become pregnant. During pregnancy, it’s recommended that you bump the dose up to 600 mcg daily, and continue that through pregnancy through the stages of breastfeeding. Talk to your medical professional about a specific dosage that is right for you.
2 Biggest Folic Acid Benefits for Pregnancy
May Help Protect Against Birth Defects
- Neural Tube Defects – This may be the number one reason to get on a folic acid supplement early, preferably before you become pregnant. Most neural tube defects develop in the very early stages of pregnancy, often before the woman even knows she’s expecting. Neural tube defects can cause serious issues with normal spinal cord and brain development, leading to serious and potentially life threatening disorders. Taking folic acid early could reduce your baby’s risk of these complications by up to 70%!
- Congenital Heart Defects – Studies show that another folic acid benefit during pregnancy is that it can cut the risk of a heart defect by up to 50%. About one in every 110 newborns will be born with some type of heart defect, and those defects account for a third or more of infant deaths due to defects. So yes, folic acid is pretty important.
- Lip and Mouth Deformities – There is also evidence to support the theory that folic acid may help protect against the development of orofacial clefts in a fetus. These deformities of the face, lip, and mouth can cause feeding difficulties, ear infections, hearing loss, as well as speech and dental problems.
May Ease Pregnancy Complications
- Blood Pressure Issues – Studies show that folic acid may help the body maintain healthy blood pressure levels during pregnancy, lowering the woman’s risk of developing a very serious disorder that causes blood pressure to rise suddenly and the hands, feet, and face to swell. This dangerous, yet common pregnancy complications typically happens in the third trimester and affects one in 20 pregnancies.
- Preterm Labor – Studies show there may be a link between folic acid deficiency and preterm labor. More research is needed, but with all the other folic acid benefits out there, this is just another potential one to add to the list.
- Miscarriage – Some studies show that you can reduce your risk of miscarriage by up to 70% by taking folic acid early on in pregnancy, ideally one month before you conceive.
There seem to be countless folic acid benefits, especially before and during pregnancy. Folic acid (or folate) is found naturally in many foods, including green leafy vegetables such as spinach, lentils, many types of beans, and fortified grains. These are great sources of folic acid and are highly recommended as part of a healthy diet.
However adding a folic acid supplement is the only real way to know for sure how much you are getting each day. Many women’s supplements like Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal from Garden of Life already contain folic acid. Or you can take the supplement separately if you like. Search the wide selection of folic acid and folate supplements available from Natural Healthy Concepts, and enjoy free domestic shipping!
What is your favorite way to get your daily dose of folic acid? Tell us in the comments below!