Folic Acid During Pregnancy: Important For Children’s Health

For the development of the baby, gynecologists recommend taking folic acid during pregnancy. In this way, for example, malformations in the baby can be prevented. But it is difficult to cover the daily requirement of folic acid through diet alone. Dietary supplements are therefore all the more important.

Why is folic acid important during pregnancy?

Folic acid already influences the cell division and cell development of the baby during pregnancy and thus later child health. Nutrient also plays an important role in growth, DNA formation, blood formation, and protein metabolism. Since it is not easy to get the necessary daily requirement from food, special preparations are usually recommended. These help the baby to develop what is called the neural tube, the first structure of the central nervous system.

Folate is the only vitamin known to date that can prevent an open back (spina bifida). This is a disorder in the development of the baby’s spine during pregnancy. In this condition, the neural tube does not close completely. In addition, taking folic acid during pregnancy reduces the risk of premature birth.

What is the difference between folic acid and folate?

The two terms sound similar but do not mean the same thing. Folate is a natural, water-soluble vitamin, also known as vitamin B9. Folic acids are synthetic compounds, i.e. artificially produced vitamins that are used, for example, to fortify food.

The two substances are absorbed differently by the body, whereby folic acid is more stable and can be better utilized. It is needed by the human body to form red blood cells or to produce certain hormones such as norepinephrine and serotonin. Folic acid is part of the spinal fluid and influences the DNA composition.

What is the daily requirement of folic acid for pregnant women?

According to the guidelines of the German Society for Nutrition, adults should consume around 300 µg of folic acid per day. About 550 µg of folic acid is recommended for pregnant women. Women who want to have children are advised to take 400 µg of synthetic folic acid daily in the form of a supplement in addition to a folate-rich diet. This should be started as soon as the desire to have children is there.

Women who take birth control pills for contraception should start taking folic acid before stopping the pill if they plan to have children later, or they should start taking folic acid for the duration of the contraception. Because the pill inhibits the utilization of folic acid, which leads to a slight folic acid deficiency. This only normalizes up to six months after stopping oral contraception if no folic acid preparation is taken.

Folic acid during pregnancy – how long do you have to take it?

As a rule, taking folic acid during pregnancy is recommended for the first trimester, i.e. in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy (GW). From the second trimester, pregnant women no longer need to take any supplements. The situation is different for women who have already given birth to a child with an open back. You should take up to four grams of folic acid in the same period – but only after consulting your doctor. Even when breastfeeding, there is still a slightly increased need for folic acid (450 µg), which can usually be covered with a varied and balanced diet.

Foods with folic acid and folates

The vitamin folate must be ingested through food because the body cannot produce it. It is found in many green leafy vegetables and legumes. Pregnant women should therefore eat a portion of cabbage, vegetables, or bitter lettuce every day to cover their daily needs.

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Written by Crystal Nelson

I am a professional chef by trade and a writer at night! I have a bachelors degree in Baking and Pastry Arts and have completed many freelance writing classes as well. I specialized in recipe writing and development as well as recipe and restaurant blogging.

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