If you are planning on getting pregnant soon, you need to visit your gynaecologist or a fertility doctor for a general check up to check if everything related to your reproductive system is functioning normally. At this stage, your gynaecologist may tell you take folic acid supplements before conception and then during the pregnancy as well. But why is it so important to take folic acid during pregnancy? What does it do for the unborn baby and for you?
The major reason why you should take a small dose of folic acid is to reduce foetal abnormalities, in particular spina bifida. Spina bifida is a foetal abnormality where there is an incomplete closing of the backbone as well as the membranes. In other words the spine doesn’t form properly around the baby’s spinal cord. It’s also known as a neural tube defect.
It is also used by women before and while they are pregnant to prevent miscarriage. In addition it can also reduce a chemical called homocysteine in the blood levels. There is a possibility that high homocysteine levels are associated with the risk for heart disease. It can also be used to prevent or treat folate deficiency as well as other complications such as anaemia and the ability of the bowel to absorb nutrients. There are other benefits to using folic acid which include the prevention of colon cancer, cervical cancer, heart disease and stroke.
A fertility doctor will recommend about 4oo mcg daily. If you are undergoing IVF or In Vitro Fertilization fertility treatment you should also consider taking a small dosage of folic acid on a daily basis. Women who tend to suffer from epilepsy should take a double dose of 800 mcg daily. A fertility doctor will usually recommend that you take a supplement to ensure you get the correct daily dosage.
Folic acid is also found naturally in foods such as leafy vegetables, asparagus, bananas, melons, lemons, mushrooms, beans, beef liver and kidneys. It is also found in tomato juice and orange juice. Over the past 2 to 3 decades it has been added to breads, pasta and bakery products.
It is clear to see why folic acid is so important in pregnant women. If you are unsure as to which vitamin or nutritional supplements your body requires whether you are pregnant, trying to conceive or just want to live a healthier lifestyle, be sure to check with your doctor before starting a new supplement regime.