By reading today’s article, you will learn how you can increase your folic acid intake during pregnancy. Of course, you should speak to your doctor before making any changes to your habits.
Intake of folic acid during pregnancy plays a key role as it helps to ensure the proper development of the baby. Doctors usually recommend that you start taking it as soon as you decide you want to get pregnant.
But why is folic acid so important to the healthy development of a child? Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, folate or folate, helps protect against birth defects and the baby’s neural tube.
Both before and during pregnancy, you should consume 400 mg of folic acid daily for your baby’s organs and tissues to develop properly. Later in the text, we will explain some ways to increase your folic acid intake during pregnancy.
How To Increase Your Folic Acid Intake During Pregnancy?
As we mentioned earlier, the right daily dose of vitamin B9 helps protect against birth defects that affect your baby’s spine, spinal cord, and brain. The most common defects include:
- Posterior spina bifida: a condition where a child’s spine does not close completely, causing overall nerve damage and slight paralysis of the legs.
- Anencephaly: a defect that prevents the skull and brain from developing properly. This condition is associated with the death of the child and death shortly after birth.
- Arnold-Chiari Syndrome: This occurs when brain tissue extends all the way into the spinal canal. These are deformations of the cerebellum structure, the part of the brain that is responsible for balance. The damage can be minor or extensive, and have varying degrees of impact on the child’s life.
Besides, consuming folic acid is also healthy for you. Remember that it helps you break down and use new proteins and protects against anemia in pregnancy.
How can you increase your folic acid intake?
Now that you know why you should avoid folate deficiencies, let’s look at some ways to increase your folic acid intake during pregnancy.
1. Supplements of folic acid
As we noted at the beginning of the article, specialists recommend including folic acid supplements in your diet. If you spoke to your gynecologist before getting pregnant, he probably recommended starting supplements three months before becoming pregnant.
We have one tip: take folic acid supplements at the same time each day. Sticking to a habit is the best way to remember to take your medications. Another hint? Set an alarm on your phone to help you remember to take them.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables that contain folic acid
You must remember to include various fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin B9 in your diet during pregnancy. Therefore, you should consume 4 to 5 servings every day:
- Swiss chard (140 μg / 100 g),
- Spinach (140 μg / 100 g),
- Broccoli (90 μg / 100 g),
- Lettuce (34 μg / 100 g),
- Asparagus (30 μg / 100 g),
- Tomatoes (28 μg / 100 g),
- Celery (12 μg / 100 g),
- Avocados (11 μg / 100 g),
- Carrots (10 μg / 100 g),
- Pumpkin (10 μg / 100 g),
- Citrus fruits such as strawberries, kiwi, oranges, raspberries, and papaya.
3. Eat legumes every week
Legumes are the main source of vegetable proteins. Plus, they’re rich in folic acid and fiber that you should eat during pregnancy to avoid constipation. You can make a wide variety of dishes from them, from stews to salads.
4. Add dried fruit and nuts to your meals
Dried fruit and nuts are perfect additions to yoghurt, cookies or bread, thanks to which they will obtain a crispy texture. You can also add them to salads or eat them on their own as a snack.
These foods provide plenty of folate as well as healthy fatty acids such as omega-3.
5. Buy fortified foods
If you need to increase your intake of folic acid during pregnancy, choose fortified flours, rice, pasta and breakfast cereals. Read labels to find out how much folic acid they contain.
Note: Some studies suggest that consuming too much folic acid may negatively affect your baby, especially during the phase of cell multiplication. Check with your doctor to find out if you need to take any supplements.
You can see for yourself that consuming folic acid during pregnancy is extremely important for both you and your baby. Seek medical advice before trying to get pregnant to find out if you should take vitamin B9 supplements.
Follow your doctor’s instructions. He knows perfectly well how to take care of you and your baby.