How to effectively supplement folic acid for pregnant women is an important issue for pregnant women. Because folic acid is an essential nutrient to help prevent birth defects in the fetus. If pregnant women do not receive adequate folic acid supplements, there is a high risk of neural tube defects in the fetus. Therefore, right from the time, they plan to become pregnant, women are recommended to take folic acid supplements.
Folic Acid Overview
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is vitamin B9 – a B vitamin that plays an important role in cell growth and development. During pregnancy, folic acid participates in the formation and development of the fetal nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. Therefore, folic acid supplementation should be taken before, during, and after pregnancy to ensure the health of both mother and fetus.
Is folic acid the same as iron?
In fact, many pregnant women mistakenly believe that folic acid and iron are the same. The reason may be that iron supplements often include folic acid, so many mothers think that folic acid is another name for iron.
Folic acid and iron are not the same things. However, they all have an important role in pregnancy. Therefore, pregnant women need to have knowledge about folic acid as well as iron to avoid confusion, leading to excess and deficiency without knowing.
Where is folic acid found?
What foods are rich in folic acid? What foods contain folic acid? This is the concern of many pregnant women. According to experts, folic acid is high in foods such as:
- Green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, okra, asparagus, lettuce
- Fruits and vegetables: bananas, melons, lemons, orange juices
- Grains, legumes: brown rice, black beans, peas, etc
- Fermented foods, mushrooms
- Liver and beef,…
Above are the foods rich in folic acid for pregnant women. To ensure adequate nutrition during pregnancy, mothers should not skip these foods containing folic acid.
Why is Folic Acid Supplement Needed for Pregnant Mothers?
Supplementing with folic acid not only brings many benefits to the health of the fetus but also contributes to ensuring the health of the pregnant mother.
- Preventing birth defects for children
Folic acid affects the development of a child's brain and spinal cord. Acid deficiency is one of the causes of increased incidence of neural tube defects in fetuses. Babies can have serious birth defects such as split vertebrae, an unborn baby, or brain abnormalities.
- Prevention of anemia in the mother
Folic acid is an essential element in the body's production of red blood cells. Therefore, folic acid supplementation is necessary to ensure the nourishing process of cells in the body and prevent anemia in pregnant women. During pregnancy, if a pregnant woman has anemia, it can lead to dangerous complications such as premature birth, miscarriage, malnutrition or postpartum mental disorders, etc. grow, become anemic, and are more likely to develop cardiovascular disease.
- Reduce the chance of getting cancer
Some statistics show that in people who supplement enough folic acid, the incidence of gastrointestinal cancer, breast cancer, cervical cancer is lower than those who do not get enough folic acid. However, this issue still needs more evidence to be conclusive.
The Safest And Most Effective Way To Supplement Folic Acid For Pregnant Women
From before, during, and after pregnancy, pregnant women are recommended to take adequate folic acid supplements to ensure the mother's health and the comprehensive development of the fetus. The recommended amount for women of reproductive age is 400-800 mcg folic acid/day. Depending on the stage, the amount of folic acid pregnant women need to supplement daily will vary. As follows:
- From pre-pregnancy to 3rd month of pregnancy: 400mcg folic acid/day.
- For the remaining months of pregnancy: 600mcg folic acid/day
- Lactating women: 500mcg folic acid/day
In cases a mother is at high risk of giving birth to a baby with neural tube defects, the doctor may recommend a higher daily dose of folic acid of about 5mg until the baby is 12 weeks old. This helps to minimize the risk of neurological defects in the fetus.
In addition, in some women with special factors, it is necessary to consult a doctor about the dose of folic acid to suit the body condition:
- Women with diabetes
- People who have had a baby or miscarriage with a neural tube defect
- Women taking antiepileptic drugs
- The woman or her husband has birth defects related to the neural tube
- Having a close relative with a congenital neural tube defect
Folic acid is found in many foods that we eat every day. However, during processing, the source of folic acid available in food can be easily lost. Therefore, processing should not be carried out for a long time to avoid reducing the folic acid content in food.
In addition, in some cases, pregnant women have difficulty absorbing folic acid directly from food. Supplements from natural foods also cannot meet the necessary needs.
Therefore, pregnant women need to supplement from folic acid tablets to get enough folic acid the body needs. Pre-pregnancy vitamin supplements contribute to folic acid supplementation, ensuring a safe, healthy pregnancy for both mother and fetus.
Mothers can easily buy folic acid tablets from multivitamin preparations or functional foods at drugstores in the market. However, it is necessary to carefully review the content of folic acid before use and follow the doctor's prescription.
Some Notes When Supplementing Folic Acid For Pregnant Mothers
To ensure safety and effectiveness, when supplementing with folic acid, mothers should pay attention to the following points:
- Supplementing folic acid from oral drugs and foods is very necessary and should be maintained throughout pregnancy. You should supplement according to the instructions and prescriptions of your doctor to ensure the safest and most effective
- Because in pregnant women the need for folic acid is usually 4 times higher than in the general population, so the overdose rarely occurs. However, one should also be cautious and pay attention to the amount of folic acid added to the body every day. Normally, it is necessary to maintain folic acid levels in the range of 400-800 mcg/day. If using high doses of folic acid over 1000 mcg per day for a long time, it can cause diarrhea, nausea, indigestion or a strange taste in the mouth, etc. Too much folic acid is also the cause. interferes with the absorption and metabolism of zinc, increasing the risk of nerve cell damage.
- Do not drink carbonated water, alcoholic beverages, caffeine, wine, beer because they can affect the absorption of folic acid.
- You should take folic acid between meals to ensure the best absorption.
- Vitamin C increases iron absorption. Therefore, if you take iron and folic acid tablets, you should take them with orange juice or juice containing vitamin C.
- Mothers should drink enough water and add more fiber to their daily diet because folic acid supplements for a long time can cause constipation symptoms.
Folic acid is a micronutrient that plays an important role before, during, and after pregnancy. It is necessary to supplement with folic acid in each stage to prevent birth defects that may occur in the fetus. Moreover, it can ensure good health during and after childbirth.
With the above information, hopefully, you have had useful knowledge about how to supplement folic acid for pregnant women safely and effectively.
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