Friday, July 8, 2011
Say Yes to Folic Acid
Folic acid is a naturally occurring B vitamin. It helps a fetus's neural tube develop properly. The neural tube is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord. When the neural tube does not close properly, a baby is born with a very serious birth defect called a neural tube defect (NTD).
The best way to get enough folic acid is to take a multivitamin with at least 400 micrograms of folic acid in it and eat a healthy diet. Most multivitamins have this amount, but check the label to be sure. You also can get folate (the natural form of folic acid) in your diet, but most women don't get the recommended amount of folate or folic acid from diet alone.
About 3,000 pregnancies are affected by neural tube defects each year in the United States. If all women took adequate folic acid before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy, up to 70 percent of neural tube defects could be prevented.
Once you're pregnant, you should increase your folic acid intake to at least 600 micrograms of folic acid. Your prenatal vitamin should have the right amount of folic acid you'll need during pregnancy.
Most women should limit the amount of folic acid they take to 1,000 micrograms a day unless otherwise directed by a health provider. For example, women who have had a previous pregnancy affected by birth defects of the brain and spine and women with sickle cell disease should be sure to talk with their health providers about the need for more folic acid.
Folic Acid In Food:
Fortified breakfast cereals (look on the label to see if the cereal has been fortified with folic acid)
Peanuts (only if you do not have a peanut allergy)
Orange juice (from concentrate is best)
Enriched breads and pasta
Info on Folic Acid comes from the March of Dimes