Why every woman at fertile age should get folic acid

It is a key vitamin for the development of the baby and the prevention of diseases.

Everyone needs folic acid and other vitamins to be healthy. But it is especially important for women before and during pregnancy. Folic acid protects unborn children against serious birth defects called neural tube defects. The first few weeks of pregnancy are when those defects appear, often before a woman knows she is pregnant.

Half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, so experts recommend all women of fertile age get enough folic acid.

Folic acid is the man-made form of folate, a B vitamin. You can find it naturally in some foods, including spinach, nuts, and beans. Folic acid is found in fortified foods (called “enriched foods”).

Those foods are great sources of folate: vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, English spinach, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, parsnip, sweet corn, zucchini) fruit (avocado, grapefruit, orange) legumes (chickpeas, soya beans, lima beans, red kidney beans, lentils, haricot beans).

It is also important to take it in pills, prescribed by your doctor.

Why folic acid is crucial for your baby´s health

Folate plays an important role in the production of red blood cells and helps your baby’s neural tube develop into their brain and spinal cord. It can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida).

Anencephaly: This means that most or all of the brain and skull do not develop in the womb. Almost all babies with this condition die before or soon after birth.

Spina bifida: This condition happens when an unborn baby’s spinal column does not fully close during development in the womb, leaving the spinal cord exposed. As a result, the nerves that control the legs and other organs do not work. Children with spina bifida often have lifelong disabilities. They may also need many surgeries.

Also folic acid plays a large role in the cell growth and development of the baby.

Talk to your doctor about your daily folic acid intake. Be sure to get the right dose. The diet is important but does not replace the supplements.