There are enough facts on folic acid to make you sit
up and take notice of this vital vitamin, especially
if you are planning to have a baby. Each trimester
certain nutrients become very important for the baby's
development. One such nutrient is folic acid from
the family of B-vitamins; folate prevents birth defects
in a developing baby. Ideally folic acid should be
taken 3 months before conception to ensure a healthy
start and be continued for a further 3 months.
• In the early weeks, the embryo develops
3 layers of cells of which the outer layer will
form the neutral tube; from this the brain, spinal
cord, nervous system, ears and eyes develop.
• Poor development will cause baby to be born
with a neural tube defect (NTD) such as spina bifida
(in layman's terms it is known as split spine).
Babies born with severe spina bifida may not be
able to walk and will face bowel and bladder problems.
• Another merit point to consider is folic
acid aids in cell division and in the formation
of red blood cells for both mother and baby.
• Folic acid also lowers the risk of growth
restriction and increases birth weight of baby in
the later part of pregnancy, thereby lowering the
odds of premature birth, and even preeclampsia.
• Some researches seem to point to folate
preventing the incidence of Down's syndrome, though
it is not conclusive.
• Another folic acid fact is a lack can cause
anemia in the mother, leaving her fatigued most
of the time.
much of Folate is enough..
If you are a Vegetarian..
Five good sources of folate:
Women who are trying to conceive should take 400mcg
of folic acid daily for at least a month before
conceiving and continue for the first three months
of pregnancy. If you decide to continue with this
vitamin through the end of your term is even better.
It is naturally found in leafy greens and green
beans but it is difficult to acquire folate from
natural food sources; supplements become essential
to combat this insufficiency. Folic acid levels
can be labeled in these ways; if you are not sure
check with your doctor the level that is suitable
now for you.
• 400 mcg (micrograms)
• 0.4 mg (milligrams)
• 400 mcg (micrograms) (international units)
Check your multivitamin label to ensure the correct
dosage of this vitamin. Don’t be tempted to take
more than the recommended dose unless advised by
your doctor. Women who need higher doses of folic
acid fall in the following categories:
Have had a previous pregnancy
affected by NTD
Have NTD themselves
Have a family history
Have a partner with a family
history of NTDs
You will be advised to take 5 mg or more (this is
at your doctor’s discretion) of this vitamin if
any of the above applies to you. The sensible thing
to do is take your supplements along with foods
rich in folate. Examples of such foods:
• Green leafy vegetables especially spinach,
• Other vegetables such as green beans, cabbage,
peas, cauliflower, avocado
• Oranges and other citrus fruits
• Breakfast cereals fortified with this vitamin
• Eggs, lentils, kidney beans, chick peas,
• Yoghurt & milk
• Chickpeas curry
• Mixed bean salad
• Broccoli and cheese quiche
• Mixed nuts roast
• Vegetable biryani
Cress tomatoes, green and red peppers, lettuce and
avocado all have some folate in them. Mix these and
fix yourself a bowl of salad.
Folate levels decrease if vegetable and fruits are
kept or stored so use them fresh. Cooking destroys
them; washing destroys the nutrient value as well.
The key to maximizing the folate level:
Store vegetables in the fridge
and use them soon after you buy them
Serve them raw (uncooked)
Cooking methods should be - steam, boil