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Food & Health

Why You Should Take Folic Acid Even Before Pregnancy

“I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy. I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.”

This Art Williams quote was not uttered in the context of pregnancy, but it does good in summing up the nine glorious months of carrying a child in one’s womb. Planning to conceive yet? Here’s one solid tip: take folic acid.

Also known as folate, folic acid is a B9 vitamin that is especially beneficial during the first trimester of your pregnancy.

Here are some reasons why:

It helps prevent spinal cord and brain defects

Your baby’s spine and brain develop from a neural tube. Some babies get neural tube defects during the early stage of development, sometimes even before a mother is made aware of her pregnancy. Folic acid saves your baby from having neural tube defects comprised of spinal cord defects like spina bifida or brain defects like anencephaly.

Taking folic acid at least one month before conception and during the first trimester of your pregnancy can significantly reduce your baby’s chances of having neural tube defects.

It protects your child from having cleft lip, cleft palate, and heart defects

Aside from preventing spinal cord and brain defects, folic acid also helps prevent your child from having cleft lip and cleft palate. These defects happen when parts of a baby’s mouth and lip do not attach properly. These are usually corrected only through surgery.

Folic acid is also believed to combat certain types of heart defects as well as preeclampsia, a blood pressure disorder which in its severe form can cause life-threatening conditions affecting different organs including the liver and kidney.

It contributes to your baby’s cell growth and DNA creation

Your body needs to produce normal red blood cells. But before it can produce red blood cells, it must first break down and create proteins. This is where folic acid becomes useful. Folic acid also contributes in creating DNA by helping the embryonic neural tube to close. Lastly, it aids greatly in the rapid cell growth of your baby’s placenta and assists in the formation of the baby’s heart and circulatory system.

Where can you get folic acid?

Folic acid is readily available in certain grain products like breakfast cereals, pasta, and rice, which is especially useful for women who do not have a supplement. However, if you want food that are naturally rich in folic acid, go for legumes, asparagus, leafy vegetables like spinach and kale, broccoli, as well as nuts and seeds.

When can you start taking folic acid?

Consuming folic is especially helpful during the first trimester of your pregnancy so consider taking it around that time. Folic acid is also believed to be helpful when you’re just trying to conceive so consider consuming it even if you’re not yet pregnant. Consult your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure you have the proper amount.

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