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Folic Acid (Folate) and Pregnancy




By Martha Sanders

You're being told that you need to increase folic acid before and during pregnancy, but how much folic acid do you need? And, how can you get the folic acid you need?

Folic acid, also known as folate or folacin, is one of the B Vitamins (Vitamin B9) that is vital for cellular development and regeneration. Taking folic acid before pregnancy ensures proper formation of your unborn baby's brain and spinal cord, and reduces the risk of neural-tube defects such as spina bifida. Women who don't get enough folic acid may increase their chance of miscarriage or still births.


How Much Folic Acid During Pregnancy

According to the March of Dimes, the recommended dosage for most women of childbearing age is 400 mcg of folic acid per day, as part of a healthy diet. Once you're pregnant, the dosage should be increased to at least 600 mcg daily.

However, if you've a family history of neural-tube defects, your doctor may suggest a higher dose – 4,000 mcg a day. Most prenatal vitamins contain the appropriate dosage of folic acid along with other vitamins to keep you healthy.

Since folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, your body doesn't store very much folic acid, and will naturally flush out excess quantities if you consume too much.

However, in some women, especially those who don't consume dairy products, getting too much folate may hide a B12 deficiency. Consult your doctor if you think you may be at risk.

Food manufacturers are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to add folic acid to fortified grain products such as breakfast cereals (eg. Total), bread, pasta, and rice so that each serving contains at least 20% of the daily requirement, and some breakfast cereals boasts as much as 100%. So check the nutritional label.



What Foods Contain Folic Acid

Rich sources of naturally occurring folate are found in many foods including lentils, beans, chickpeas, chicken liver, beef liver, and oatmeal.

Asparagus, spinach, romaine lettuce, broccoli, canned corn, enriched pastas and breads, Brussels sprouts, orange juice, and avocados also have folate in them.


If you don't get enough amount of folate you need from your diet, take a multivitamin with folic acid or a folic acid supplement everyday. You can buy folic acid tablets from pharmacies, locally or online. Folic acid supplements also available on prescription.



how much folic acid during pregnancy

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