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Baby planning: Folic Acid

Folic Acid is a form of Vitamin B and is very important for the healthy development of your baby.

You probably never heard so much about folic acid before you decided to have a baby. At least, I hadn't! Wherever you go and whoever you talk to about your upcoming pregnancy, the first thing they mention is folic acid. Find out what folic acid is all about and what is does for you and your baby. Click here for folic acid sources.

Why is it emphasised so much?

Folic acid is extremely important for the healthy development of your baby, especially in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. It is known to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect called spina bifida. Your baby can be affected by this defect even before you realise you are pregnant. This is why it is important to start taking folic acid supplements as soon as you come off any form of contraception and start trying for a baby.

However, if your pregnancy was unplanned and you did not take folic acid before conception, you must start taking folic acid as soon as you discover that you are pregnant and continue taking it for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

How much is enough?

As per NHS online, a daily supplement of 400 micrograms should be taken before becoming pregnant and then until the 12th week of pregnancy. You may ask your doctor to prescribe folic acid for you or you can discuss with the pharmacist and purchase it over the counter.

Although folic acid is contained in a variety of foodstuffs, overcooking green vegetables etc. destroys the vitamin. Therefore, eating a folic acid enriched diet is beneficial but not enough on its own, which is why folic acid supplements are advised strongly.

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