If you’re planning on getting pregnant, start taking folic acid now to help your body be in the best condition possible. Folic acid is a B vitamin and is known to prevent neural tube birth defects, like spina bifida. According to the CDC, more than 2/3 of US women are not getting enough of this important vitamin.
How Much Folic Acid Should I Take
All women of childbearing ages have a recommended daily intake of 400 micrograms (mcg) or .4 milligrams (mg). When pregnant, this recommended daily intake goes up to 600 – 800 mcg. Most prenatal vitamins will contain the proper dosage of folic acid. Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin, and your body will flush the excess if your intake is too high.
Discuss with your doctor how much folic acid you need each day before and after you conceive. If you have a child with neural tube defects or a family history of neural tube defects, work closely with your doctor, as he may advise a higher dosage for you.
Deep green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, are a great natural source of folate. It is also found in chicken and beef liver, salmon, eggs, broccoli, asparagus, papaya, citrus fruits, nuts and legumes. Enriched cereal grain products, like flour, pasta, rice and cereal are required by the FDA to add folic acid.
Prenatal vitamins containing folic acid are a great to insure you’re getting your recommended daily intake of folate, just in case you miss a serving or two during the day.
What Does Folic Acid Do
Folic acid is also called folate, folacin and B9. It is integral in producing red blood cells, as well as the chemicals norepinephrin and serotonin, which are found in the nervous system. Folic acid also helps normalize brain functions and is necessary when genetic material synthesize in cells – which happens every moment all over our entire bodies!
Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that affects one in every 1,000 babies born in the US. The Centers for Disease Control reports that taking the recommended dosage of folic acid can reduce your baby’s risk of some types of birth defects by as much as 50%. Additionally, women who do not get enough folic acid may increase their chances of miscarriage or still births.
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