Folic Acid and Its Importance During Pregnancy

Folic Acid and Its Importance During Pregnancy

“Folic acid is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in fetal development and the prevention of birth defects. Find out why folic acid is so important during pregnancy, and how to ensure you’re getting enough of it. Learn about the recommended daily intake of folic acid, and get expert advice on how to incorporate it into your diet through foods and supplements. Make sure you’re meeting your folic acid needs and supporting the health of your baby.”

Folic Acid and Its Benefits During Pregnancy

It is a B group and water-soluble vitamin. It has an important role in the formation and development of cell building blocksblood cells and especially nervous system tissues.

Folic acid plays an important role in the construction of new cells by participating in the production of DNA and RNA. It works with vitamin B12 to form hemoglobin (an iron-rich protein found in red blood cells) .

Folic acid:

  • In the development of the fetus
  • In the development of the nervous system
  • In the brain and spinal cord
  • In the prevention of birth defects

is of great importance.

Does Folic Acid Help Get Pregnant?

Before pregnancy, folic acid regulates the level of progesterone, thus increasing fertility.

During pregnancy, the body especially needs some nutritional values. This situation varies according to the needs of the growing baby and pregnancy.

It helps in cases such as protein synthesis in the body, cell proliferation and the complete fulfillment of the bone marrow’s task. This group of vitamins is not stored in the body and therefore must be taken every day.

What Causes Folic Acid Deficiency During Pregnancy?

  • Insufficient folic acid during pregnancy, due to its role in DNA synthesis, leads to disruption of cell division. Insufficiency in rapidly proliferating cells, especially in tissues such as intestinal mucosa, liver and bone marrow, manifests itself immediately.
  • In its deficiency, growth retardation and anemia are seen. In anemia caused by folic acid deficiency, the number of white and red blood cells decreases.
  • Some of the blood cells pass into the circulation before they mature. The work of the bone marrow accelerates. This is called macrocytic or megaloblastic anemia . This type of anemia is common in pregnant women and children.
  • Skin sores similar to pellagra can also be seen in folic acid deficiency .
  • In folic acid deficiency, the tongue becomes red and pain is experienced. In mild deficiencies, the person may experience depression. In more severe deficiencies, the nerves are damaged and serious psychological problems may occur.
  • In infants of pregnant women who are malnourished from folic acid, folic acid levels in serum and erythrocytes decrease, neural tube defect, neural tube defect (NTD) may be seen. The baby is born with spina bifida in the spinal cord. Taking folic acid supplementation for the expectant mother reduces the risk.
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Neural Tube Defect (NTD)

The nervous system is one of the first systems to develop in the body. It begins its formation as a tiny disc of special cells in the embryo. About twenty-six days after conception, this round disc begins to fold on itself and fuses to close, forming a cylinder called the neural tube that will later form the brain and spinal cord. If the neural tube doesn’t close properly, it can lead to birth defects and even more so fatal .

Folic acid supplementation is required for complete closure of the neural tube. It is very important to start taking folic acid supplements before getting pregnant, as the neural tube closes before many women find out they are pregnant.

Start Folic Acid Intake Before Pregnancy

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (2005) recommend that all women of childbearing age take folic acid supplements and consume foods rich in folic acid every day.

We mentioned that folic acid is from the group of vitamins that expectant mothers should start consuming before becoming pregnant. The use of folic acid is an important step for the development of the baby’s cell and nervous system .

Fetal growth and development is a period characterized by rapid cell division. For this reason, it is extremely important to use enough folic acid during this period, with its critical role in DNA and RNA production. According to studies conducted for many years, the use of adequate amounts of folic acid during pregnancy significantly reduces the possibility of central nervous system anomalies, ie disability, in the baby .

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How Many Months Is Folic Acid Used During Pregnancy?

It is recommended to use 400 micrograms of folic acid daily from when the pregnancy is planned, that is, at least 3 months before the pregnancy and until the end of the 3rd month of pregnancy .

During breastfeeding, an additional 100 micrograms is recommended in addition to 400 micrograms.

NOTE! Each individual’s pregnancy process is different. The above mentioned are general definitions. Therefore, consult a doctor who follows your development process to start folic acid supplementation.

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Nutrition Before Pregnancy Period

We talked about the importance of folic acid before and during pregnancy. It is very important to take a step towards a healthy diet with these supplements.

Getting pregnant nowadays has become quite difficult. One of the general reasons for this is wrong eating habits and excess weight gained for this reason .

If you have a pregnancy plan and you are overweight, you need to get rid of your excess weight and regulate your eating habits. In addition to weight, body fat ratio and regional adiposity are also related to pregnancy.

Studies have shown that individuals with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.85 have higher fertility.

Nutritional Recommendations

  • You should try to drink 2.5-3 liters of water a day .
  • You should plan your diet as 3 main meals and 2-3 snacks .
  • You can start walking for 40-45 minutes three days a week .
  • You should stay away from empty energy sources.
  • You should take care to consume fresh vegetables and fruits that are suitable for the season .
  • The most important fuel for the body is  carbohydrates . Cutting out carbohydrates completely is wrong. You should prefer whole grain products instead of white flour and white bread.
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What Foods Contain Folic Acid?

  • Liver, other organ meats
  • Spinach
  • Dry beans
  • green leafy vegetables
  • Avocado
  • Purslane
  • Banana
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Egg yolk
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Beware of Vitamin Loss!!

With cooking, the folic acid value of foods can decrease. The loss rate varies according to the cooking method. The loss of folic acid in meat cooked by frying method is less, and it is higher in cooking in watery heat. Folic acid is lost with water dripping on the grill. The most loss occurs by removing the water from the vegetables cooked in plenty of water (90-95%). In this method, the use of folic acid decreases even more, as the vitamin C in vegetables is also lost.

Our suggestion in this regard is to cook in a short time and with little water, not to waste the water or to cook it with steam. Thus, we can prevent the loss of vitamins and minerals.

Folic Acid and Its Importance During Pregnancy
Folic Acid and Its Importance During Pregnancy 5

Pre-Pregnancy Nutrition Program

When you wake up:      

  • 1 glass of water

Breakfast:     

  • Vegetable omelet made with 1 boiled egg or 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 2 slices of white cheese
  • 2 whole walnuts or 6 olives
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread
  • 1 serving of fruit
  • 1 glass of buttermilk

Noon:

  • 1 bowl of soup
  • 4-6 meatballs of chicken/meatballs or fish (grilled or baked)
  • Lots of green salad
  • 1 bowl of yogurt or 1 bowl of tzatziki
  • 2 slices of whole grain bread or 4-5 spoons of bulgur pilaf

Afternoon:

  • 3-4 pieces of grissini
  • 1 glass of buttermilk

Evening:

  • 1 bowl of soup
  • 8 tablespoons of vegetable food
  • 1 bowl of yogurt / 1.5 cups of buttermilk / 1 bowl of tzatziki
  • Lots of green salad
  • 2 thin slices of whole grain bread

Night:

  • 1 serving of fruit
  • 1 bowl of yogurt

Note: This list is general. Diet is personal, it can be reduced or increased according to personal differences. You, too, should consult a nutritionist to create your own plan.

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