In recognition of Folic Acid Awareness Week, which is observed from January 3 to January 9, 2021, we’re highlighting the importance of folic acid and the many benefits the crucial nutrient contains for women.
We’ve talked about the importance of choosing a prenatal vitamin and folic acid should be one of the first ingredients to look for. Our bodies need a healthy amount of vitamins and nutrients to feel our best, and pregnancy increases the need for these nutrients to help both the mother and the developing fetus. While the best way to get these essential nutrients is through a balanced diet, sometimes added supplements are needed to achieve the necessary recommended intake.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), folic acid is recommended for all women of reproductive age, even if they are not pregnant. But in the case of prenatal use, folic acid is proven to help prevent neural tube defects.
What is Folic Acid?
Folic acid and folate are forms of B vitamin. Folate is naturally present in certain foods and folic acid is the synthetic form present in vitamins. The body processes folic acid to create new cells.
A healthy amount of folic acid helps protect an unborn baby’s brain and spine from major birth defects. “CDC and the US Public Health Service urge every woman who could become pregnant to get 400 micrograms (400 mcg) of synthetic folic acid every day.” There are many benefits to folate and folic acid. Always talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about any of your nutrients or vitamins.
1. Prevention of Birth Defects and Complications
The early development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord is crucial and taking the proper amount of folic acid can help to prevent any birth defects that can be caused during those early developmental weeks when a woman first becomes pregnant. Taking folic acid is also proven to help prevent preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
2. Brain Health
Another added benefit of taking folic acid is the promotion of cognitive health. Studies show that taking folic acid supplements regularly can help improve brain function, no matter the woman’s age.
3. Heart Health
Research on folic acid supplementation and the risk of cardiovascular diseases has shown that taking folic acid regularly could help reduce homocysteine levels, a common amino acid, which in turn can help reduce heart disease risk.
Blood flow, which also promotes heart health has also been shown to benefit from regular folic acid intake.
4. Healthy Pregnancy
Because folic acid plays an important role in tissue growth and cellular division, folic acid should be taken before and during pregnancy.
Talk to A Midwife
At City of Oaks Midwifery, our certified nurse-midwives (CNMs) are dedicated to a relational approach to pregnancy care. From the beginning, we will be there to support you and answer your questions, including making sure you are well educated on prenatal nutritional needs. If you have any questions about the proper amount of folic acid you should be taking, we are here to help. Call (919) 351-8253 to make an appointment at our Raleigh, NC midwifery practice.