Sometimes supplementing that healthy pregnancy diet with certain
things like vitamins is also a good idea just to help make sure that the
mum-to-be is getting everything she needs in order to provide her bub with
everything they need for proper development.
One thing that is completely vital to make sure that the baby develops
properly is folic acid.
What Exactly is Folic Acid?
acid, also known as folate depending on the source, is a very important vitamin
that all pregnant women should be getting adequate amounts of in order to
ensure proper development and a healthy pregnancy and baby.
Folic acid and folate are extremely
important to proper development.
They are B group vitamins and are
Folic acid is particularly important to proper development of
the nervous system and plays a crucial role in preventing neural tube defects
in the growing baby.
Folate or Folic Acid?
and folic acid are basically the same thing.
They are both water-soluble group
They work the same way in
The difference between the two is that folate is naturally
occurring in different foods that you eat, and folic acid is what is added to
certain foods or used in dietary supplements.
When to Take Folic Acid?
acid or folate plays a crucial role in the very
early development of the baby.
It specifically helps to ensure healthy and
proper development of the neural tube in the first few weeks of pregnancy.
The neural tube
later becomes the baby’s spinal cord and brain as well as the bones that encase
Most of the time, a woman won’t become aware that she is even pregnant
until after this very important development of the neural tube.
acid is most important in early pregnancy
before a woman is even aware of her pregnancy, it’s a good idea for all sexually active women of child bearing
age to take a folic acid supplement.
This is especially true since about
half of all pregnancies in Australia are unplanned.
How Much Folic Acid is
amount of folate that women should usually get in their diet is about 400 micrograms
During pregnancy, that increases to 600 micrograms each day.
the woman is getting adequate amounts of folate in her diet, it is still
recommended that women trying to conceive as well as women that are in their
first trimester of pregnancy should take a folic acid supplement of at least half a milligram each day.
Women at High Risk of Having
a Baby with a Neural Tube Defect
some cases, an even higher dose of folic acid is recommended in pregnancy and
prior to conception.
If a woman or her partner have previously had a baby with
a neural tube defect, have a neural tube defect themselves, or have a relative
with a neural tube defect, the woman may need to take a higher dose of folic
Usually if the woman is considered high risk for having a child with a
neural tube defect, it would be recommended to take 5 milligrams of folic acid each day.
Other reasons for taking this
higher dose of folic acid is if you have diabetes or are taking any medications
for seizures or epilepsy.
In any case, you should discuss how much folic acid you should be taking daily with your
pregnancy health care provider.
Sources of Folate and Folic
Acid in Pregnancy
occurs naturally in different foods that we eat.
The synthetic version of
folate, folic acid, is added to certain foods, and can also be taken as a
1. Naturally Occurring Folate
are plenty of natural ways to add folate in your diet. Folate can be found in
Green and leafy vegetables
are high in folate, as well as fruits and legumes.
The amount of folate in
foods is affected by the process of cooking the foods.
For this reason, the
most ideal way to get folate naturally is from raw foods such as raw
Specific sources of naturally occurring folate are:
2. Foods Fortified with Folic
foods that usually would not contain any folate, have folic acid added to them
and are known to be fortified with folic acid.
In 2009, it was made so that all
flour used to make bread in Australia, other than flour used to make organic
bread, must contain added folic acid.
This was done as an effort to prevent
more neural tube defects.
For this reason, all
bread, other than organic bread, in Australia contains added folic acid.
Other foods that may be fortified with folic acid include fruit juice and breakfast
3. Folic Acid Supplement
your pregnancy, it is a great idea to get folate and folic acid from the foods
that you eat.
However, due to the way that the vitamin can be destroyed during
cooking, it can be very difficult to measure exactly how much of it you are
getting in your diet.
Due to the difficulty to keep track of folate intake from
food, it is strongly recommended that
women take a daily folic acid supplement to ensure that they are getting
enough folic acid.
Risks Associated with a Lack
of Folic Acid in Pregnancy
an adequate amount of folic acid or folate during your pregnancy is of the
If you aren’t getting enough of it, especially in those
first few weeks of pregnancy, your child could end up with a neural tube
Neural tube defects affect
approximately 1 in every 1000 babies in Australia.
bifida is the most common neural tube defect and occurs when the spinal cord
doesn’t close properly.
Severity varies greatly but spina bifida usually causes
some sensory problems, can affect motor skills, can cause problems with bowel
and bladder control, and can cause paralysis. There is no cure for spina bifida, but it can be managed and some
treatments are available, often including surgical options.
is a condition where the neural tube does not close as it should at the baby’s head.
This usually causes part of the brain or skull to be missing.
babies that have this condition typically pass away during or very soon after
common than other neural tube defects is encephalocele.
This condition occurs
when part of the brain and/or part of the membrane that surrounds the brain get
pushed through an opening in the baby’s skull.
Most of the time, this neural tube defect is treatable with
tube defects are very serious, but most
neural tube defects can be prevented.
Every woman of child bearing age
should take a daily supplement of folic acid to ensure that if she does fall
pregnant, that the baby has the folic acid he/she needs so desperately in those
very early stages of development.
Even if you aren’t planning on having a baby
right now, you should still take the supplement.
Many pregnancies are
unplanned, and folic acid is good for
you even if you aren’t having a baby.
It’s super easy to take the
supplement and it isn’t risky at all, so be prepared for the possibility of an
unplanned pregnancy by always getting enough folate and folic acid.
Welcome to Babyinfo – the ultimate pregnancy and newborn information guide. We are here to help you find all the pregnancy and baby info you need to make the most beautiful experience of your life even better.
Our team is comprised of an amazing mix of experienced mothers, recently pregnant women, and editors with tremendous medical knowledge in the fields of gynaecology and childbirth.
Think of us as your friendly advisors, here to give you honest, easy to understand and authentic information. We are here to be your support at this crucial time in your life, when you need it the most.
Note: This website is in no way meant to replace doctors, hospitals, or other healthcare providers that may be utilized by current mothers or mothers-to-be. All mothers are advised to see a doctor for medical advice and the appropriate care before, during, and after pregnancy.