Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate, a B-group vitamin. Folate plays various roles within the body such as making and repairing DNA, as well as other genetic materials. Folate is also required for the body’s cell to divide.
While folate can be found in a variety of foods such as green vegetables, fruits, legumes, and eggs, as well as various fortified foods, is important that pregnant women, and those who planning to become pregnant, supplement with folic acid.
In this article you can find:
- Why is folic acid important in pregnancy?
- What is a neural tube defect?
- What is the recommended folic acid dosage for pregnant women?
Why is folic acid important in pregnancy?
Folate is required for a baby’s cells to divide during pregnancy, as well as for the development of their nervous system. It is within the first few weeks of pregnancy that the neural tube closes and fuses. Later, within pregnancy, it develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord. As a result, a lack in folate can cause neural tube defects.
What is a neural tube defect?
Neural tube defects are severe defects of the brain and spine. Studies suggest that supplementing with folic acid reduces this risk of neural tube defects by 70%.
Folate is also important for homocysteine metabolism, normal psychological functions, normal amino acid synthesis, the immune system and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
What is the recommended folic acid dosage for pregnant women?
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in water and cannot be stored in the body. Thereby, we require a continuous daily supply of folate in our diet.
The World Health Organisation recommend that women should supplement with 400µg/d of folic acid while attempting pregnancy and until they are 3 months pregnant, in addition to eating a healthy diet.
It is important to note that over half of pregnancies are unplanned. Thus, it is vital that all women who could become pregnant take a daily supplement, whether they are planning to conceive or not.
Sona Folic Acid provides 400µg of Folic Acid, to support adequate maternal tissue growth during pregnancy.
- Cusick S, Georgieff M. The Role of Nutrition in Brain Development: The Golden Opportunity of the “First 1000 Days”. The Journal of Pediatrics. 2016;175:16-21.
- James A Greenberg, Stacey J Bell, Yong Guan, Yan-hong Yu. Folic Acid Supplementation and Pregnancy: More Than Just Neural Tube Defect Prevention. Rev Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Summer; 4(2): 52–59.
- Periconceptional folic acid supplementation to prevent neural tube defects [Internet]. World Health Organization. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.who.int/elena/titles/folate_periconceptional/en/.
- Recommendations: Women & Folic Acid [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/recommendations.html.
- Vitamins, supplements and nutrition in pregnancy [Internet]. nhs.uk. 2018 [cited 8 December 2018]. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/vitamins-minerals-supplements-pregnant/.