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Folic acid in pregnancy is especially important in the first weeks of pregnancy
Folic acid in pregnancy is most important at the beginning when the nervous system is forming. Its optimal amount significantly reduces the risk of serious consequences of neural tube defects that develop up to 28 days after fertilization, i.e. often before a woman goes to the gynecologist for her first pregnancy visit.
Scientists have calculated that the risk of neural tube defects with folic acid supplementation drops by up to 70%! No wonder then that experts believe folic acid for the most important pregnancy vitamin, which must not be forgotten! It allows you to strongly minimize the risk of such serious defects as spina bifida, brains or cerebral hernia, as well as heart or urinary tract defects.
Every year, around 2,000 children with neural tube defects are born in Poland.
Folic acid is most important at the beginning of pregnancy, but its presence is also indicated later. Vitamin supports fetal haematopoietic processes, helps in the digestive system, conditions liver, stomach and intestinal health. Folic acid also helps the future mother, protecting her from anemia, and also improves her mood, preventing depression.
What is folic acid?
Folic acid is vitamin B9 (folacin, folate), soluble in water. It is classified as a derivate of folate. The human body cannot produce this vitamin by itself, it is necessary to supply it with food or a dietary supplement.
Folic acid is stored in the liver, it can last there about 3 months. Excess vitamin is excreted in the urine and stool.
Folic acid can be found in its natural sources:
- dark green vegetables - Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce, asparagus,
- oranges, bananas,
- turnips, beets,
Unfortunately, folic acid in nature is very sensitive to temperature and evaporates quickly. That is why supplementation is so important, as it protects against its deficiencies.
Folic acid in pregnancy: dosage
Doctors recommend supplementation 0.4 mg of folic acid per day (do not exceed a dose of 1 mg per day) three months before starting childcare and during pregnancy at least until the third month of pregnancy. The Polish Gynecological Society recommends continuing folic acid supplementation until the end of the second trimester. Some doctors recommend maintaining supplementation until the end of pregnancy.
The dose of folic acid should be increased in women:
- in multiple pregnancy,
- with BMI over 30,
- previously using hormonal contraception,
- smoking cigarettes.
Women with epilepsy and those who gave birth to a child with a neural tube defect should take 4 mg of folic acid daily.
Due to the fact that many pregnancies are not planned and 100% of certain contraceptive methods do not exist, doctors urge that any active sexual woman take the folic acid tablets.