Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin and it is also known as vitamin B9. Folic acid is necessary for body for maintenance of new cells like skin, nails, hair, blood cells ( red blood cells- erythrocytes), gastrointestinal system cells daily. Everybody needs folic acid daily but the requirement increases in pregnancy because of growing fetus. Folic acid has an important role in brain and spine growth in embryo and folic acid deficiency causes some neural tube defects in unborn baby like anencephaly and spina bifida.
How much folic acid do you need in pregnancy?
It is recommended to use 400 mcg of folic acid daily in pregnancy. You can take this amount only as a folic acid supplement or you can use a multivitamin everyday. Your doctor may recommend to use 10 times of normal dose ( 4000 mcg or 4 mg) folic acid usage if you have had a previous birth with neural tube defect. Please consult your doctor about your daily folic acid usage and other vitamins and supplements.
When you should start folic acid usage?
For birth defects prevention you should start to use folic acid before you get pregnant. You can start to use folic acid at least 1 month before pregnancy if you are planning to have a baby. Brain and spine abnormalities occur within the first 3-4 weeks of the pregnancy so it is important to have enough folic acid in your body in early stages of pregnancy.
Can you take folic acid with foods?
There are some good natural sources of folic acid, here are some examples of folic acid- rich foods;
- Other citrus fruits
- Baked potatoes
- Yeast extract
- Brown rice
- Black eyed beans
- Green beans
- Brussels sprouts
- Dark leafy greens ; spinach turnip greens, collard greens, etc.
- Split peas
How can you take your folic acid regularly?
- Take your folic acid pills everday at same hour
- Match your folic acid usage with an another regular activity like toothbrushing, breakfast, etc.
- Put your vitamin pills on a place that you can see easily
- Set your phone or clock on same hour of the day
- Request help from your husband, child or friend to remind your folic acid pills