Getting baby bump ready is possibly the happiest and probably one of the most important decisions you can make. And with good reason. There are a lot of factors at work here and you need to be in a space where you are healthy before you make that all important call. A positive pregnancy experience requires good antenatal care coupled with sound nutrition both before and during the pregnancy. The intake of right nutrition should begin from the moment you start planning to get pregnant which can lead to better pregnancy outcomes.
If you are planning to have a baby, one important nutrient that plays a key role in the growth and development of the baby is folic acid. Here’s an insight into the need for this vital nutrient.
Why Do You Need Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. This vitamin plays a significant role in pregnancy as it is required for the normal development of the baby. The need for folic acid increases as the blood volume expands due to placental growth. This can be accomplished only with an adequate supply of folic acid. To safeguard your baby from many disorders, it is a must to take folic acid way before you plan to conceive.
Incentives For Taking Folic Acid Supplements
- Folic acid shields the baby against congenital birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, neural tube defects like spina bifida (that leads to childhood paralysis) and anencephaly (a serious condition in which the baby is born with an underdeveloped brain and skull).
- It averts the risk of miscarriage, preterm delivery and other complications.
- Folic acid helps in the synthesis of red blood cells and prevents a certain type of anaemia.
- It also prevents the incidence of cleft lip and palate.
- It plays a vital role in cell development and repair.
- Folic acid protects the DNA from damage and lowers risk of cancer.
How Much Folic Acid Should I Take?
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of folic acid for most women is 400 mcg per day to avert the risk of neural tube defects. Some women with certain medical conditions such as diabetes, epilepsy, liver disease, bowel disease, and family history of NTDs (neglected tropical diseases) may require a higher dosage. It is always best to seek advice from your doctor to know about the right dose.
Excess intake of folic acid may have some side effects like breathing difficulty, skin rashes, abdominal cramps, nausea, irritability, confusion etc. You must always follow the advice of your doctor and not exceed the recommended intake.
Food Sources Rich In Folic Acid
You can incorporate folic acid into your diet through a rich array of sources which are packed with this vitamin. These include:
- Green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus
- Other vegetables including beetroot
- Fruits like kiwi, banana, strawberries, papaya, oranges, and watermelon
- Legumes like peas, chickpeas, and soybean
- Fortified cereals
Eating a well-balanced diet with dense nutrients along with the addition of folate rich foods, would be the ideal way to boost your health and your baby’s as well. Supplements should only be taken when advised by the doctor.