Anyone who is planning to become pregnant or is pregnant has probably heard of “folic acid.” Folic acid is also known as Folate or Folacin and basically is vitamin B. This is a necessary vitamin during the period of rapid cell division, which is a defining characteristic of pregnancy. Folic acid is also helpful in producing red blood cells which help prevent anemia during pregnancy. The most important benefit of folic acid intake before and during pregnancy is that it protects against neural tube defects. However the important question is when is the best time to take folic acid during pregnancy.
Studies have shown a direct link between the deficiency of folic acid during pregnancy and neural tube defects in newborn. So if pregnant women do not intake enough folic acid during the 1-2 months before pregnancy, the risk of abnormalities in the baby’s skull, brain and spine are very high. It has also been shown in several studies that if the folic acid supplement is taken before and during the first trimester of gestation, the risk of inborn defects with neural tube are decreased by 72 - 100%.
In order to work best you must start taking folic acid at least 1-2 months before you get pregnant, before the positive pregnancy test.
The neural tube, which eventually develops into the baby’s nervous system, is formed during the first few weeks of pregnancy and if the proper amount of folic acid is present in the mother’s body at this point, it reduces or eliminates the risks of defects in the child. Folic acid also reduces the risk of cleft lip and palate and pre term labor.
To avoid these risks, it is important that women who are trying to conceive or find out that they are pregnant, should start taking a folic acid supplement immediately. These supplements should be used daily, particularly through the first trimester. Doctors recommend that women planning to get pregnant should take a daily dosage of 400 mcg and this amount should be increased to 600- 800 mcg once you conceive.
Folic acid is considered to be a pregnancy superhero! It must be in the women’s system during the early stages of pregnancy when the baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing. So if you want to give birth to a healthy baby, make sure that you take your recommended dose daily!