Following on from my last post on pre and post natal nutrition - I thought I would share some info on a very important vitamin that is needed, especially in the first 4weeks of pregnancy. Folate, folic or vitamin B9 - it goes by all three names. Folate is the natural form found in foods and folic is the synthetic form found usually in supplements and fortified foods. It is essential, meaning we must get it though our diet or supplement form.
Folic acid has many important health benefits. But the main one which most people know about is the need for it during pregnancy. If you are thinking of having a baby I would recommend starting to take a folic acid supplement straight away. Ideally all woman of childbearing age should be supplement with 400mcg of folic acid every day regardless if they are trying for a baby or not. Folic acid can prevent neural tube defects which can happen before you even know you are pregnant (it is formed during the first 28days from conception) After that preventive folic acid is not effective.
It can be worrying to find out you are pregnant, but haven’t been taking folic acid or a prenatal vitamin. Luckily we can get folate acid through our diet too. Most breads and cereals are fortified with synthetic folic acid and foods like citrus, leafy greens, legumes, asparagus, eggs, beetroots, broccoli, nut and seeds, papaya, bananas, and avocados. Chances are you have been getting a good amount through your diet too (along with all the other vitamins and minerals found in these foods.) Speak to your Doctor if you are concerned.