You have probably heard of folic acid before. Many ladies take folic acid when trying to conceive and during the first trimester of pregnancy. So what is Folic acid and what are the benefits?
Folic acid is also known as vitamin B9 and is very important for the development of a healthy foetus, as it can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida.
It is strongly recommended that ladies should take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid for at least a month before they are trying to conceive and for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as during this time the baby’s spine is developing. It is safe to continue taking folic acid supplements after 12 weeks and you will often find folic acid in pregnancy vitamins.
If you didn’t take folic acid supplements before getting pregnant, you should start taking them as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. You can get folic acid tablets from large supermarkets, health food stores, or on prescription from your GP.
Although you can get folic acid from green, leafy vegetables, brown rice, granary bread, and breakfast cereals, it would be almost impossible to get your required daily allowance from food alone and the only way to be sure you are getting the right amount is by taking a supplement.
Are you in the High Risk Category of Neural tube defects?
Some ladies have an increased chance of being affected by a neural tube defect, for these ladies they are often advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (5mg) of folic acid each day until they are 12 weeks pregnant.
You could be classed as high risk if you can relate to any of the following;
- You have diabetes
- you or your partner have a neural tube defect
- you previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
- you or your partner have a family history of neural tube defects
Always check with your GP before taking any vitamins as the m be able to prescribe you with one or recommend one to you.
If any of the above applies to you, talk to your GP as they can prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Your GP could also recommend additional screening tests during pregnancy if they feel it is necessary.