Folic acid is the great ally of mothers to prevent complications in the development of the fetus and reduce the chances of a preterm birth. In this article, we will tell you what its enormous benefits are and in what foods we can find it.
When a woman in the gestation period goes to the doctor, one of the first recommendations he will make is to take folic acid during pregnancy. The consumption of this supplement by pregnant women is common. Therefore, it is important to know what your contribution to the organism is.
What’s Folic Acid?
Also called folate or folacin, folic acid is a water soluble vitamin (vitamin B9) belonging to group B. Its presence in spinach leaves was discovered in the 1940s; thus its name derives from the Latin folia , which means sheet.
Following a synthesis of folacin, one obtains the so-called folic acid, very popular among pregnant women. In the synthesis of nucleic acids or DNA, folic acid plays an important role. It helps the cells to duplicate successfully.
Consumption of this vitamin, although it is more common in pregnant women, may also be prescribed for other patients.
Benefits of Folic Acid
Prevents premature birth and malformations
Folic acid intake at least 12 months before conception reduces the chances of having a preterm birth by approximately 50% .
At the same time, this vitamin is essential to prevent malformations in the baby’s spine and head during pregnancy. The neural tube is the structure responsible for giving rise to the vertebral column; his training period concludes on the 28th day after conception.
Folic acid prevents defects in the closure of the neural tube, thus helping to prevent diseases in the fetus, such as:
- Spina bifida . This malformation is the result of the incomplete closure of the neural tube at the end of the first month of life of the embryo. It is not a hereditary disorder and there are two variations: hidden spina bifida or spina bifida cystica.
- Encephalocele. It is a congenital disease in which the herniation of one of the diverticula of the brain tissue and the meningeal occurs.
- Anencephaly. It is the absence of brain mass.
Another of the benefits of ingesting folic acid in pregnancy is that it contributes to the strengthening of heart health. In addition, it promotes cell division, essential for the formation of fetal tissues and organs.
“In the synthesis of nucleic acids or DNA, folic acid plays an important role. It helps the cells to duplicate successfully. “
When a woman plans to become pregnant, it is advisable to start taking folic acid three months before conception. In this pre-pregnancy period, the recommended dose is 400 micrograms daily. However, this dose may vary with each organism.
In the first three months of gestation, the dose increases: it rises to a range of 600 to 800 micrograms daily. In these cases, the doses may also vary depending on the needs of each woman.
If the mother has a family history of babies born with neural tube defects, the dose is likely to increase to 4,000 micrograms daily.
Foods Rich in Folic Acid
In addition to pharmacological supplementation, a woman should have a diet rich in folic acid in pregnancy . There are animal and vegetable foods that contain vitamin B9, but the amounts may not be enough. Therefore, daily requirements must be met with diet and supplements.
- Green leafy vegetables: Romaine lettuce, turnip greens, spinach, Brussels sprouts and cabbage.
- Fruits: grapefruit, grapes, orange, melon, papaya and strawberry.
- Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, okra, cauliflower , beet , celery, carrot, squash and avocado.
- Seeds and nuts: flaxseed, sunflower, walnuts, almonds and peanuts.
- Grains: peas, lentils, chickpeas , carioca beans, black and white.
- Veal liver.
- Chicken giblets.
- Turkey liver.
Other foods that have been artificially enriched also provide good doses of folic acid. Some are whole grains, wheat flour and products made from these foods, such as whole wheat bread.
In addition to the significant benefits it has for the fetus, consuming folic acid in pregnancy also brings many other benefits to the woman throughout gestation. For example, it strengthens the structure of the hair and prevents its fall, besides preventing the dryness, promote the shine and delay the appearance of white hair.
In short, folic acid helps prevent anemia and contributes to the absorption of nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates. As you can see, it is an essential nutrient at this stage.