May 08, 2015 | vitaMedMD
Did you know that folic acid is necessary to help minimize the risk of babies born with NTDs? We answered a few common questions associated with folic acid intake and why it is important.
Neural tube defects (NTDs) are major birth defects of a baby’s brain or spinal cord. They happen when the neural tube (that later turns into the brain and spinal cord) doesn’t form right, and the baby’s brain or spinal cord is damaged. This happens within the first few weeks a woman is pregnant, often before a woman knows that she is pregnant.
Folate and folic acid are forms of a water-soluble B vitamin. Folate is found naturally in some foods, such as leafy, dark green vegetables, citrus fruits and juices, and beans. Folic acid is the synthetic form of this vitamin.
Healthful diets with adequate folate may reduce a woman's risk of having a child with a brain or spinal cord defect. Women capable of becoming pregnant should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid per day from a supplement or fortified foods in addition to the natural food folate from a varied diet.
Birth defects of the brain or spinal cord (anencephaly and spina bifida) happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy; often before you find out you're pregnant. By the time you realize you’re pregnant, it might be too late. Also, half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned.
These are two reasons why it is important for all women who can get pregnant to be sure to get 400 mcg of folic acid every day, even if they aren’t planning a pregnancy any time soon.
The CDC recommends women to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant. If you are trying to get pregnant this month, or planning to get pregnant soon, start taking 400 mcg of folic acid today! The established safe upper limit of folic acid intake is 250% of daily value. (1000 mcg)
Folic acid should be consumed as part of a healthy diet. It is hard to eat a diet that has all the nutrients you need every day. Even with careful planning, you might not get all the vitamins you need from your diet alone. That’s why it’s important to take a vitamin with folic acid every day.
Make it easy to remember by taking your vitamin at the same time every day. Try taking your vitamin when you: brush your teeth, eat breakfast, finish your shower, or brush your hair.
This information is adapted from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/index.html. CDC.gov (www.cdc.gov) is your online source for credible health information and is the official Web site of the CDC.
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