Folic acid is a pregnancy superhero! Taking a prenatal vitamin with the recommended 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of your baby's brain and spinal cord. It’s important for the proper organ development of a developing baby.
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.
Birth defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. So it's important to have folate in your system during those early stages when your baby's brain and spinal cord are developing.
If you talked to your doctor when you were trying to conceive, they probably told you to start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. One study showed that women who took folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant cut their chances of delivering early by 50% or more.
The CDC recommends that you start taking folic acid every day for at least a month before you become pregnant, and every day while you are pregnant.
If you picked out your own prenatal vitamin, take it to your OB once you're pregnant to make sure it has the recommended amounts of everything you need, including folic acid.
Folic acid foods during pregnancy:
1. 1. Fortified breakfast cereals – like Cornflakes. Read the box to check.
There’s no guarantee that you will get enough folic acid from food alone, so a supplement is important.
If you have morning sickness in early pregnancy, it may be difficult to eat enough fortified foods to get the folic acid you need.
To make sure you get enough folic acid, doctors will usually recommend taking a folic acid supplement or a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid before and during pregnancy.