Pregnancy and Folic Acid - Folic acid in, before and during Pregnancy

Folic acid is essential for the formation of the developing baby and for the production of healthy red blood cells. In pregnancy there is a significant increase in the number of red blood cells in your body, around 25% on average by 32 weeks of pregnancy. So there is an extra demand for folic acid and not just for the baby but also for the mother.

Folic acid is an important member of the B vitamin family although it is occasionally refered to as vitamin M. Folic acids is soluble in water and is stored mainly in the liver. An adequate folic acid intake is also essential for the formation of the developing baby as a deficiency can result in natural tube defects.

Food Sources containing Folic Acid

Folic acid is found in fresh dark green vegetables like broccoli, brussels sprouts, peas, green beans, chickpeas and spinach. It is also present in oranges. Peanuts are rich in folic acid but salted penuts should be avoided if possible. Folic acid is largely destroyed by cooking so make sure that you eat salads and stir fry or steam vegetables lightly rather than boiling them.

Many women with a good diet may have a sufficient folic acid intake for pregnancy simply from their food without the need for supplementation. But folic acid deficiency commonly arises in pregnancy due to the extra demands the baby places on mother's body.

Folic acid is knowm to reduce the risk of certain abnormalities in the baby known as neural tube defects of which spina bifida is perhaps the best known. In USA folic acid has been added to all flour for bread and pasta from 1998.

The recommended daily allowance of folic acid for adults is 200 mcg. Prior to becoming pregnant it is recommended that you double this intake to 400 mcg a day. Folic acids tablets can be obtained form all good pharmacies.

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