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To ensure that you have a healthy baby, you will have to first make sure that you yourself are healthy. Though controlling the fate of a pregnancy is not in your hands, but by taking certain precautions and necessary health measures, you can always safeguard the health of the developing fetus. And one among the most important things that can help prevent severe birth defects in the baby is to have enough of folic acid every day; both before conception and during early pregnancy.
Also known as folate, folic acid is a B vitamin (B9) mostly found in the green leafy vegetables like spinach, several fruits like pomegranate, orange juice, as well as the enriched grains. It plays a crucial role in red blood cells production and even helps the neural tube of baby develop into brain and the spinal cord. But you can't get enough of this vitamin just from foods, you need to take the supplements of it.
This is the reason, many studies done across the globe have stated that getting 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of folate daily before conception and during the early pregnancy can cut down the risk of any severe neural tube defect in the baby. Though health experts and scientists aren't still sure as to why folic acid holds such a subtle effect on the avoidance of neural tube defects, but they are firm of this vitamin playing an important role in the DNA development.
Other than protecting the baby against the neural tube defects, it also protects the baby from:
Birth defects usually occur in the first 3-4 weeks of your pregnancy. Therefore, it's vital that this vitamin is there in your system in those early stages when the baby's brain plus spinal cord are in the initial stage of developing. Generally, doctors recommend to start the dose at least a month before you conception. And it should continue during the pregnancy.
The approved dose for women under childbearing age happens to be 400 mcg each day. If you are taking a multivitamin each day, do check if it contains the recommended amount. However, if due to certain reasons you don't wish to take a multivitamin, just stick to the folic acid supplements.
Check out the recommended amount of this vitamin each day during pregnancy:
While trying to conceive: 400 mcg
During first three months of pregnancy: 400 mcg
From 4-9 months of pregnancy: 600 mcg
During breastfeeding: 500 mcg
Now that you have come in terms with the importance of folic acid in your pregnancy, make sure that you have it in the recommended amount. Whether you are trying to get pregnant or are in the initial stage of pregnancy, let this vitamin guard you and the baby!