You’ve decided to try for a baby, which is fantastic, what an exciting moment! Now you may be wondering how much folic acid do I need to have?
Everyone needs a nutritious diet, but pregnant women need it more than anybody else to ensure the baby’s growth and development.
Prior to conception and during pregnancy, it’s critical to consume adequate vitamins and minerals.
Women who intend to get pregnant, who may become pregnant, or who are currently pregnant should take folic acid supplements.
Do You Know? Folic acid can only prevent certain birth defects called neural tube defects (NTDs) during the first few weeks of pregnancy. That's right, before most women even realize they're pregnant, folic acid is already hard at work!
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid, also known as folate, is a synthetic version of B vitamin (B9). Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach, legumes like beans and peas, and fortified grains are the main sources of folic acid. Your body uses folic acid to form new cells and create DNA. It’s necessary for all of your life’s regular growth and development. Folic acid is a pregnant woman’s best friend!
Related: Top 19 Obstetrical Complications
Why is Folic Acid Important for Pregnancy?
Ensuring you are healthy will help you have a healthy kid. Getting enough folic acid daily is one of the most crucial strategies to help avoid significant birth problems in your child, including severe neural tube anomalies such anencephaly, encephalocele, and spina bifida, especially before conception and during early pregnancy.
What are Neural Tube Defects?
Birth malformations affecting the brain, spine, or spinal cord are called neural tube defects. They take place during the first month of pregnancy, frequently before the woman even realizes she is expecting. Spina bifida and anencephaly are the two most prevalent abnormalities of the neural tube. The fetal spinal column does not completely shut in spina bifida. Usually, nerve injury results in at least partial paralysis of the legs. The majority of the brain and skull do not develop in anencephaly. Anencephalic infants typically have stillbirths or pass away soon after delivery. The Chiari malformation is a different kind of abnormality that results in the brain tissue extending into the spinal canal.
It is unknown what specifically causes neural tube defects. Having a child with a neural tube defect is more likely if you:
- Are obese
- Have poorly managed diabetes
- Take certain anti-epileptic medications.
The majority of neural tube abnormalities are avoided by eating enough folic acid, a form of B vitamin, during and throughout pregnancy.
Typically, lab or imaging tests are used to determine neural tube problems prior to the baby’s birth. Defects in the neural tube are incurable. Normal persistent nerve damage and function loss are evident from birth. However, a number of therapies can occasionally stop more harm from occurring and assist with problems.
How Do I Get Folic Acid?
Folic acid can be obtained in two ways.
- Through the meals you consume. Several foods, including leafy green vegetables, such as cabbage, kale, spring greens and spinach; broccoli; brussels sprouts; almonds; chickpeas; and kidney beans, naturally contain folate. Fortified foods, often known as “enriched foods, ” such as breads, pastas, and cereals, contain folic acid. To determine whether a product has been fortified with folic acid, look for the word “enriched” in the ingredients list.
- Like a vitamin, the majority of multivitamins marketed in the US provide 400 mcg of folic acid, or 100% of the daily recommended amount. To be certain, look at the label.
How Much Folic Acid Do I Need to Have?
All women require 400 mcg of folic acid per day. Pregnant women should consume 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid per day, either as a supplement or in the form of fortified foods such as morning cereal or vitamins. In addition to the natural folate found in diet, this is also recommended.
Some females might require additional folic acid every day. To determine how much folic acid you require, use the chart.
|If you:||Your potential daily folic acid need|
|Could become pregnant or already are||400–800 mcg. Your doctor may prescribe a prenatal vitamin with more folic acid.|
|Wanting to become pregnant after giving birth to a child who has a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida)||4000 mcg. Your doctor may prescribe this amount. Research shows taking this amount may reduce the likelihood of having another baby with spina bifida.|
|Have a spina bifida family member and could become pregnant||4000 mcg. Your doctor may prescribe this amount.|
|Have spina bifida and want to get pregnant||4000 mcg. Your doctor may prescribe this amount. Children born to women who have spina bifida are more likely to be affected by the disorder.|
|Take medication for your type 2 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or epilepsy.||Talk to your doctor or nurse. Supplements containing folic acid may interact with these drugs.|
|Are undergoing dialysis for kidney disease.||Talk to your doctor or nurse.|
|Have a medical condition that affects how your body absorbs folic acid, such as celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease||Talk to your doctor or nurse.|
When Should I Start Taking Folic Acid?
Folic acid supplements should be used by anyone who wants to get pregnant before they start trying.
Some doctors advise taking the supplement up to 6 months before you begin trying for a baby, while others say 3 months is fine.
This is because neural tube problems manifest early in development, frequently before a woman is aware that she is pregnant.
Everyone who can get pregnant should take folic acid supplements, according to specialists, as roughly half of pregnancies are unexpected. By doing this, it is ensured that there is a minimal probability of neural tube anomalies, even in the event of a surprise pregnancy.
Because folic acid is water-soluble, the body can process it fast. Because of this, persons who take folic acid pills must take one each day.
No particular time of day or meal is required for taking the supplement. It could be simpler to remember to take folic acid, though, if you make it a routine, like taking a prenatal vitamin with breakfast every morning.
According to the CDC, folic acid supplements typically contain 400 mcg of the vitamin in each pill. This may be verified by looking at the supplement label.
Is It Too Late to Take Folic Acid After 12 Weeks?
The baby’s neural tube should have closed by 12 weeks, so you won’t need to take folic acid. However, taking it all the way during your pregnancy is not dangerous. So, if you are taking pregnant multivitamin tablets that include it, you can continue.
How Long Should I Continue Taking Folic Acid?
For the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy, it is recommended that you take a daily folic acid supplement. It’s alright if you want to go on after this. Eating fresh, green, leafy vegetables can also help you maintain a diet high in folic acid and other beneficial elements for developing babies.
It’s acceptable if you like to take a pregnancy supplement for the entire nine months. Just make sure it is one designed for pregnancy, as it’s not recommended to take some vitamins in excessive doses while you’re expecting.
What Happens If I Miss Taking a Day’s Worth of Pills?
Again, don’t worry. If you skip one or more days of taking your folic acid supplement, it’s highly unlikely to have an impact because you’ll have built up a healthy amount of folic acid. Instead of taking many pills at once to make up for missed days, simply resume your one-a-day regimen.
Will My Baby Be Okay If I Don’t Take Folic Acid?
Try not to be concerned. Because the danger is modest, a shortage of folic acid is unlikely to have hampered your baby’s growth. However, if you are concerned, consult your midwife or doctor.
Do I Still Require Folic Acid After Menopause?
Yes. After menopause, women still require 400 mcg of folic acid daily for optimal health. How much folic acid you require should be discussed with your doctor or nurse.
Are Certain Women at Greater Risk of Folic Acid Deficiency?
Yes, a specific group of women does not consume enough folic acid daily.
- More folic acid is required for potential mothers (400 to 800 mcg).
- Inadequate folic acid intake affects about one in three African-American women daily.
- Frequently, Mexican-American women who speak Spanish do not consume enough folic acid. Mexican-Americans who speak English, however, often consume adequate folic acid.
You and your unborn child may experience issues during pregnancy if you don’t obtain enough folic acid, including folate-deficiency anemia.
What is Folate-Deficiency Anemia?
When you do not consume enough folate, you might develop folate-deficiency anemia, a kind of anemia. Pregnancy is the most prevalent time for folate-deficiency anemia to occur. Alcoholism and some medications used to treat seizures, anxiety, or arthritis are other factors that contribute to folate deficiency anemia.
The following are some signs of folate deficient anemia:
- Fatigue \ headache
- Pale skin
- Sore tongue and mouth
Your doctor could advise taking folic acid supplements and increasing your intake of foods containing folate if you have folate-deficiency anemia.
Do Insurance Plans Cover Folic Acid Supplements?
Yes. Folic acid supplements for women who could get pregnant are free of charge under the affordable care act (the health care legislation) for all health insurance marketplace plans and the majority of other insurance policies. To learn what is covered by your insurance plan, contact your insurance company.
To learn more about other services that are covered by the affordable care act, visit healthcare.gov
Related: What To Eat When Pregnant?
In conclusion, understanding “How Much Folic Acid Do I Need To Have” is vital for ensuring optimal health, especially for women of reproductive age. Folic acid is essential for the development of the body, particularly for women who are pregnant or planning to conceive.
To ensure that you’re getting enough folic acid, it’s important to include folic acid-rich foods in your diet and consider taking supplements if necessary. However, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before making any significant changes to your diet or starting any new supplements to ensure that you’re meeting your body’s unique requirements.
By prioritizing your folic acid intake, you can reduce the risk of birth defects, improve your overall health, and support your body’s development. So, whether you’re pregnant or not, make sure to keep folic acid on your radar and take the necessary steps to ensure that you’re getting the recommended daily dose.
Remember, a little folic acid goes a long way, and your body will thank you for it in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
What happens if I don’t get enough Folic Acid?
Folic acid deficiency can lead to a range of health problems, including anemia, birth defects, and certain types of cancer.
Can I get enough Folic Acid from my Diet alone?
It is possible to get enough folic acid from your diet alone, but some individuals may need to take supplements to prevent deficiency.
When should I start taking Folic Acid if I want to get Pregnant?
Women who are trying to conceive should start taking folic acid supplements at least one month before getting pregnant.
Can Men Benefit from taking Folic Acid Supplements?
Yes, folic acid is essential for the formation of red blood cells and can help to prevent certain types of cancer in men.
Can I take too much Folic Acid?
Yes, taking too much folic acid can mask the symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency and lead to other health problems. It is important to follow the recommended daily intake of folic acid.
Are there any Side Effects of taking Folic Acid Supplements?
Folic acid supplements are generally safe and have few side effects. However, some individuals may experience nausea, bloating, and other digestive problems.