Why is Folic Acid important for Conception and Pregnancy?



When you decide to have a baby, Folic acid is one of the main items that should appear on your “remaining healthy” checklist. Folic acid, sometimes called folate or folacin, is a B vitamin more popularly referred to as B9. It aids our body in producing more red blood cells, as well as the chemical components of our nervous system, such as norepinephrine and serotonin. Folic acid can also aid in synthesizing the genetic substances found in the cells of our bodies as well as help us to maintain normalized brain functions.

Why should I take folic acid?

It is suggested that folic acid should be used both before and during conception, as it is one of the few nutrients that can actually prevent neural tube birth defects like spina bifida. Spina Bifida affects one in every one thousand newborns within the United States each year. Women who ensure that their bodies get the recommended dosage of folic acid daily, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control, can decrease the chances of their baby contracting this defect by at least 50%. On the other hand, women who are not able to ingest the recommended dose stand at a higher risk of stillbirths or miscarriages.

Do be cautious as iron-deficiency anemia and folate-deficiency anemia share the same symptoms as both fatigue and weakness, and can make you feel irritable or edgy.

What is the Recommended Dose of Folic acid?

The Office on Women’s Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that woman of childbearing age consume a minimum of 400 micrograms (mcg), or 0.4 milligrams (mg), on a daily basis. Women who are already pregnant are required to have a minimum of 600 and a maximum of 800 mcg (0.6 mg – 0.8 mg) on a daily basis. The recommended dosage is raised to 4,000 mcg (or 4 mg) of folic acid per day if there is a history of neural tube defects within your family.  A majority of the prenatal vitamins today will contain the right amount of folic acid, in conjunction with other necessary pregnancy vitamins, to help keep you healthy.

If your first child was born with a neural tube defect, there is a high risk that your second child will too. Generally, these women are advised to intake a minimum of 4 mg beginning about a month before conception occurs through to the end of your first trimester.

It is always wise to consult your doctor to be certain of the amount of folic acid you will require both before and during pregnancy. You need not worry about consuming too much because folic acid is actually vitamin that is soluble in water and your body will simply flush out any excess.

This does not mean, however, that you should just take it without checking with your doctor as ingesting too much folate can cover up a B-12 deficiency, which is a problem, especially for vegetarian moms-to-be.

Should you take other Supplement along with Folic Acid?

Taking supplements in addition to folic acid would, in fact be a good move for you. However, you can also try eating plenty of foods rich in folate, along with your regular prenatal vitamins for best results.

Which Foods Contain Folic acid?

Folic acid can mostly be found in green leafy vegetables, however, thanks to the FDA, you can now find folic acid in a few enriched cereal grain products. These include flour, rice, and even pasta. Other foods that may contain folic acid are liver (chicken or beef), lentils, wheat germ, asparagus, eggs, papaya, cantaloupe, and canned salmon.


Last modified: June 3, 2014