All about Folic Acid

If you’re pregnant, you’ve probably come across an advice article that tells you to “take your folic acid!” There are so many supplements that are lauded as must-haves while pregnant, but while you sift through what’s the best for you and what’s not, be sure that you do look twice at folic acid. Folic acid is understood to be vital to your health and the health of your growing baby. Fortunately, it’s simple to supplement your body with folic acid on a day-to-day basis. But what, exactly, is folic acid, and why is it so important to not skimp on it while you’re expecting?

Folic acid is a form of Vitamin B called folate. This water-soluble vitamin supports your system in making red blood cells, which carry oxygen from your lungs to every part of your body. The folate assists in normal growth and development for you and your baby. While you might only be hearing about folic acid now that you’re expecting, everybody benefits from taking in supplemental folate. Folic acid is the synthetic (man-made) version of folate, which can be naturally found in many foods.

Folic acid is beneficial at any time, but it is particularly instrumental in the development of a healthy baby. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) and The U.S. Public Health Service actually recommend that pregnant women take folic acid in the form of a daily supplement. Folic acid is instrumental in preventing health problems centering around neural tubes, like spina bifida and anencephaly in your developing baby. It can also reduce your risk of miscarriage. Various studies suggest that folic acid could also help prevent low birth weight and premature birth. Aside from these tremendous benefits, folic acid is important for your body, too, since it keeps your blood healthy and supports your own continuous cell growth as your body goes through the changes of pregnancy.

When looking for folic acid supplements, it’s important to know what you’re getting. While taking folic acid is important during pregnancy, you want to be sure that your consumption stays within the recommended daily range. Most prenatal vitamins contain folic acid, so it’s wise to start with those. You should double check with your own doctor, but most recommend taking between 400 and 600 micrograms of folic acid daily while pregnant. If you plan on taking a separate folic acid supplement, be sure you’re staying within the recommended daily amount. It is possible to consume too much folic acid, so discuss every vitamin you’re taking with your doctor. When it comes to prenatal vitamins that are equipped with folic acid, we especially like the vegan, gluten free Rainbow Light prenatal vitamins and Garden of Life raw prenatal vitamins.   

Get folic acid every day by diversifying your diet with foods rich in the vitamin. Folic acid is also found in a variety of foods. You can add these to your diet to be sure you’re consuming a healthy amount for you and your baby. Some foods are enriched with folic acid, like certain breads, breakfast cereals, flours, pastas, and rice. When folic acid is found naturally in food, it’s called folate. If you’d rather up your intake this way, stock up on lentils, pinto beans and black beans, asparagus, mushrooms, broccoli, peanuts, leafy green vegetables, and citrus fruits.