Folic acid
Folic acid is one perfect nutrient that holds your hand in positive support right from when you conceive to when you breastfeed. Also known as folate, it is a B-Vitamin, extremely beneficial for the good health of you and the baby. In fact, doctors even suggest women to start taking folate right since when they are trying to conceive. It is a friend from the instant you think of conceiving to breastfeeding.

Why Is Folic Acid A Must In Pregnancy?

Folate, or folic acid is essentially forms of a water-soluble B vitamin that is required by the body cells to develop and function effectively. It helps in treating low blood levels of folate (folate deficiency), anemia and certain other conditions caused by deficiency of folate. Women who are trying to get pregnant should consume about 400 mg everyday. Taking folic acid before pregnancy is advised as it is in the early days of pregnancy that folic acid helps reduce the baby’s risk for birth defects of the brain and spine. Called as neural tube defects, spina bifida and anencephaly can affect your baby and even result in miscarriage. The supplement should be taken before pregnancy as the baby’s crucial neural tube develops in the first few weeks of pregnancy – when most of women are not even aware of their pregnancy.

How Much Folic Acid Should I Have?

Though many studies have come forward that advise women to take folic acid everyday if they are sexually active, 400 micrograms of folic acid is advised to all women who are trying for a baby. The usually recommended amount for folic acid during the conceiving and the first few months of pregnancy is 400 mcg. The doctor increases the dosage to about 600 mcg during the fourth to ninth month of the gestation period. You need to continue taking the supplements at 500 mcg even when you are breastfeeding.

The doctor checks your medical history to find if you have other chronic conditions such as diabetes and epilepsy. In such circumstances, you have to take an increased amount of folate because certain medicines prevent the absorption of the vitamin. The idea is to replenish the body with an adequate supply so that you have sufficient to balance the lessened absorption. Women with a BMI over 25 also need to take an enhanced dosage of the supplement.

The upper limit of folic acid consumption would be 1000 mg everyday, unless a woman is affected by conditions like sickle cell anemia or a previous pregnancy with any indication of neural tube defects.

What Are The Benefits Of Folic Acid?

B Vitamin plays a vital role in developing the brain and spinal cord of the little life you are carrying. Foetuses grow a neural tube first, which then proliferates to brain and spinal cord. Folic acid sees that this development proceeds perfectly. In fact, this is the reason why you must take the B vitamin in the first weeks of pregnancy. It is during this phase that the baby develops the brain and spinal cord.
In addition, this amazing nutrient boosts the production of red blood cells. This means your blood increases in the ability to carry oxygen. The body of a pregnant woman constantly refreshes to cast out the toxins from the internal environment. The auxiliary oxygen supply helps in detoxification greatly. It also prevents any possibility of developing pregnancy anemia. You can be very comforting in the assurance that the vitamin B also neutralizes the chances of birth defects in the baby.
Sources of folate

How Can I Get Folic Acid Naturally?

Nature is rich in fruits and vegetables with folic acid. In addition, the doctor prescribes folate pills to maintain its supply to the body. Fruits containing the B vitamin include ripe papaya, strawberries, cantaloupe melons (kharbooja), oranges, guava, pineapple, pomegranate (anaar), bananas, and raspberries. Among nuts and dried fruits, sesame seeds, cashew nuts, peanuts, walnuts, and almonds supply the nutrient. Legume sources are kidney beans (rajma), chickpeas (chhola), dried peas, and black-eyed peas (lobhia).
Several vegetables are also good sources. These include dark green leafy ones such as spinach, fenugreek (methi), corn, raddish, cauliflower, beetroot, turnip greens (shalgram), okras (bhindi), and mustard greens. Whole grain flours and pastas also serve as excellent sources. When buying cereals, you can check the label if it is ‘fortified’ with folate.

Other Benefits Of Folic Acid

This wonder B vitamin has been found to be effective for people who have kidney problems by lowering homocysteine levels that can cause heart diseases and strokes. High blood pressure, depression and age related loss of vision are also some conditions where folic acid is believed to be possibly effective. Taking folic acid by mouth seems to improve symptoms of a skin discoloration disorder called vitiligo.

Side Effects Of Excess Folic Acid

Huge, unmonitored and long-term doses of folic acid has been found to cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rash, sleep disorders, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, gas, excitability, and other side effects. . Some research suggests that taking folic acid in doses of 800-1200 mcg might increase the risk of heart attack in people who have heart problems. Other research suggests that taking these high doses might also increase the risk of cancer such as lung or prostate cancer, quotes www.webmd.com