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The Benefits of Folic Acid for Pregnant Women

pregnant woman
Pregnancy is a pivotal time for individuals and their unborn babies. The diet and lifestyle choices they make while pregnant will produce outcomes that will affect their babies throughout their lives. They must make smart nutritional choices to ensure their child grows strong and healthy.

While food can be the best source of nutrition, dietary supplements ensure pregnant women consume a balanced variety of vitamins and minerals. Doctors often recommend prenatal vitamins that are rich in folic acid and other nutrients.

According to the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, pregnant women need higher intake of nutrients like folic acid, protein, iron, iodine, choline, calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and fiber. These nutrients will support optimal health throughout the pregnancy. This article will focus mainly on folic acid.

Why is Folic Acid Good for Pregnancy?

Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is a B vitamin that helps the body form new cells. It is essential for the growth and development of the fetus. During pregnancy, it helps develop the neural tube which is instrumental in forming the baby’s brain and spine. A lack of folic acid can lead to brain-related birth defects and spina bifida, a condition that occurs when the spinal cord doesn’t close correctly.

Women of Reproductive Age Should Take Folic Acid

All people who may become pregnant should take about 400 mcg of folic acid each day. Most birth brain and spine-related defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy before most people know they are pregnant. Taking folic acid regularly will protect your baby against defects in the early stages of pregnancy.

Taking more than 400 mcg of folic acid will not lead to additional benefits. However, medical experts may recommend up to 4000 mcg of folic acid for women with previous pregnancies affected by neural tube defects.

What Foods are Rich in Folic Acid?

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Chickpeas
  • Kidney beans
  • Peas
  • Eggs
  • Citrus fruits
  • Fortified breakfast cereals and grains

Consuming these foods will help you reach your nutritional goals, but a supplement will ensure you get your daily allowance.

What is the Difference Between Folate and Folic Acid?

Folate is the naturally occurring version of the supplement. Folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements and fortified foods.

Most women can ingest either form of the supplement. However, people with an MTHFR gene mutation will experience limited folic acid absorption. These individuals should take folate with a naturally occurring B9 to ensure optimal benefits.

Other Recommended Nutrition During Pregnancy

Several additional nutrients provide health benefits during pregnancy. They include:

Iron: Iron produces hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that delivers oxygen to tissues. Blood volume increases during pregnancy fueling a need for additional iron. Without adequate iron, pregnant people can develop anemia which can lead to a low birth rate, postpartum depression, and a higher risk of infant death.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants that can keep mother and child healthy during pregnancy. It also reduces the risk of anemia, pre-eclampsia, and intrauterine growth restriction.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D can only be attained through sunlight and supplementation. It is essential during pregnancy because it supports fetal growth and reduces the risk of pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, and preterm birth.

Zahler Offers Optimal Pregnancy Support

Taking various dietary supplements during pregnancy can be stressful. Zahler Prenatal + DHA 300 offers everything you need in one soft gel. It is a folic acid supplement that also contains vitamins C and D, iron, and other nutrients that provide optimal support for pregnant women and unborn children.

A healthy pregnancy is so important. A combination of enough folic acid and other nutrients will ensure the best outcomes for new parents and their children. We wish you the best of luck at this pivotal time of life.