Pregnancy is a very important period in a woman’s life. The woman must be in good health to deliver a healthy bonnie baby. The woman’s body undergoes tremendous change during pregnancy. There are many hormonal, physical and emotional changes. The embryo growing within a pregnant woman’s body is completely dependant on the woman for its nutrition. So the pregnant woman must take some dietary supplements to substantiate these extra needs.
Folate is also known as folic acid or folacin.Â The synthetic form of folate is folic acid. It is a type of vitamin B and is also known as Vitamin B9. This is water soluble vitamin found in many foods. Fresh vegetables and fruits are good sources of folate. It is added to many supplements of vitamins and minerals. This vitamin is important raw material for formation of the red blood cells and chemicals like serotonin and norepinephrine of the nervous system. Folate aids in synthesis of genetic material of every cell in the body and normal functioning of the brain. If folic acid is taken before conception, then the risk of spina bifida (a neural tube defect) is reduced considerably.Â Folate helps in reducing the risk of many neural tube birth defects. The birth defects are reduced by about 50 percent if women take the recommended daily folate dosage. Women, who don’t take enough folic acid, may have increased chances of still births and miscarriages. The anemia caused due to folate deficiency has symptoms of weakness and fatigue, and may make a woman edgy or grumpy.
Dosage of Folate
The recommended daily dosage of folic acid for all women in the childbearing age range is 400 micrograms. The dosage is increased during pregnancy and it goes up to 600 to 800 micrograms. If there is a family history of neural tube birth defects, then the woman must take 4 milligrams of folic acid per day.Â Normally, all prenatal vitamins have the necessary dosage of folic acid in combination with other vitamins, required for staying healthy.
If a woman has had a first child with neural tube birth defect, then there is an increased risk of her delivering a second child with same defect. Physicians advise that such women must start taking 4 milligrams of folic acid before conception and continue through the first trimester. One must consult the doctor about the dosage before and after conception.
Foods Containing Folic AcidÂ Â
Folate is present in abundance in fresh dark green leafy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli and spinach. Other good sources of folate are the lima beans, kidney beans, liver, potatoes, lean beef, whole wheat bread, dried beans, peas, navy beans, chick peas, black eyed peas and pinto beans.