Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin that the cells in our body need in order to properly grow and develop. Studies have shown that women of childbearing age who take 400 micrograms of folic acid everyday before and during pregnancy will help reduce their baby’s risk of developing various birth defects.
Why Folic Acid Is Important
Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)
The neural tube is the part of the baby’s developing body that later becomes the brain and spinal cord. When this tube does not close completely, it can lead to neural tube defects. These birth defects therefore affect the brain and spine, and include such conditions as spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele, all of which occur during the first 28 days of pregnancy – before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.
Proper Cell Growth
Folic acid is needed by the body to make normal red blood cells and prevent anemia. Our bodies also need folic acid for the production, repair, and proper functioning of our DNA – the basic building blocks of cells. Folic acid is especially important for promoting proper cell growth and development, as well as tissue formation of the placenta and baby.
Some studies have shown that taking folic acid during the second trimester of pregnancy can reduce a woman’s risk of preeclampsia – a complex disorder that affects about 5 percent of pregnant women.
Health Issues for Baby
Folic acid may also protect your baby from various health issues like cleft lip and palate, premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage, and poor growth in the womb.
Health Issues for Mom
Folic acid has also been found to reduce a woman’s risk of heart disease, stroke, some types of cancers, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Signs of Folic Acid Deficiency
Signs of a folic acid deficiency include: hemolytic and megaloblastic anemia, in which red blood cells are large and uneven in size, have a shorter life span, or are likely to have cell membranes rupture; irritability; weakness; lack of energy; sleeping difficulties; paleness; soreness, red tongue; mild mental symptoms.
How To Get Enough Folic Acid
The recommended daily amount of folic acid for women of childbearing age is 400 micrograms (mg). Folic acid should be taken before and during pregnancy, as well as when breastfeeding.
Good food sources for folic acid include leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, beef liver, beans and lentils, peanuts, and citrus fruit. However, most women don’t get enough folic acid from foods and will also need to take a supplement.
Where to Buy Folic Acid
Folic acid is found in just about every pharmacy, drug store, vitamin shop, and natural health foods store. This month, Healthy Planet has the Jamieson Folic Acid 100 tablets on sale for just $3.99 – that’s 15% off the regular price!
Image: antpkr / freedigitalphotos.net
About the Author:
Sarah UmmYusuf is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.