You are having a baby or planning a pregnancy. Learn what you need to know about folic acid.
Having a healthy baby means making sure you’re healthy, too! One of the most important things to help prevent serious birth defects in the baby is to get enough folic acid every day — especially during preconception and early pregnancy.
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Folic acid (also known as folate or vitamin B9) is a vitamin which plays an important role in the production of RBC or Red Blood Corpuscles for increasing Hemoglobin count in the blood, DNA repair(chromosomal repair, to put it in a simpler way) and help baby’s neural tube development into brain & spinal cord.
Sources of Folic Acid:
Folic acid naturally occurs in a wide variety of foods like:
- Vegetables: Dark leafy greens for an immediate boost in folic acid like spinach, turnip, broccoli, okra (bhindi), cauliflower, beetroot, carrot, corn etc. These contain good amount of folic acid so regular consumption of these vegetables is required. But don’t overcook these vegetables because folic acid is heat sensitive and can get destroyed by cooking.
- Fruits: Many fruits contain folic acid, but citrus fruit ranks the highest. Orange is a rich source of folic acid (1 orange=50mcg- micrograms). Some other sources are: grapes, avocado, papaya and strawberries.
- Nuts & oil seeds: Under this group Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, peanut, walnut, til/gingelly seeds, almond, etc. are known for the Folate content. Flax seeds have an appreciable content of folic acid and, it can be used by sprinkling on salads, cut fruit platters, curry, can be mixed into dough doughs while making Indian breads (chapathis) or Dosa, buttermilk, or can be taken as whole nuts in roasted or soaked form.
- 1st 3 months of pregnancy- 400mcg
- 4 – 9 months of pregnancy- 600mcg
- For lactating mother- 500mcg
Examples of common food to meet the RDA of folate in pregnancy
(Source: RDA, 2010)
So, if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, consult your healthcare provider and start taking folic acid supplements in addition to eating a healthy diet regularly.