Importance of Folic Acid for Pregnant Women
For women who are pregnant or hoping to become pregnant, folic acid is a critically important nutritional supplement. In fact, in many ways its beneficial properties seem almost magical because it can prevent so many problems related to pregnancy and getting a sufficient amount is so simple.
Folic acid is a B vitamin found in foods made from grains such as breads, pasta, cereal, etc. While eating a diet with these foods is good, the best way to make certain you get enough folic acid in your diet is to take a daily multivitamin tablet that includes it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that every woman in the United States of child-bearing age get at least 400 mcg of folic acid each day. The CDC explains, “If a woman consumes the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (known as anencephaly) and spine (known as spina bifida).”
From the 4th month of pregnancy until delivery, the amount of folic acid should be increased to 600 mcg daily. For women who are breast feeding, the recommended daily amount is 500 mcg.
Research also shows that folic acid helps keep pregnant women from giving birth prematurely. According to WebMD, “one study showed that women who took folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant cut their chances of delivering early by 50% or more.”
Folic acid has also been shown to help in the prevention of a wide range of complications of pregnancy and birth, including cleft lip and palate, low birth weight, and preeclampsia. In addition, research shows that folic acid is beneficial for preventing conditions not related to pregnancy such as heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and some forms of cancer.
Even if a woman does not plan to become pregnant, folic acid is critical in the creation of new cells and medical experts recommend that daily adequate consumption is necessary.