Folic Acid During Pregnancy – How Much is Enough
Folic acid is an essential ingredient in prenatal vitamins, and should be high in the diets of pregnant women. Folic acid is a form of the B vitamin. It aids in regular cell development, as well as cell generation.
Many women do not realize the importance of ingesting enough folic acid during pregnancy. The acid is especially necessary during the early stages of pregnancy. It is most crucial during the early weeks of development, as it promotes correct brain and spinal cord development. If the neural system does not develop correctly, the mother is at a higher risk for miscarriage, and the child is at a higher risk of Neural Tube Disorder (NTD), which can cause paralysis or death.
It is a good idea for any woman trying to get pregnant to go ahead and increase folic acid intake, as it is so important during the early weeks, when women may not realize they are pregnant.
It is difficult to overdose on folic acid, because the body will flush out excess amounts. Thus, you should not be too worried about taking too much folic acid. Taking too much is always better than taking too little when pregnant. Before pregnancy, and in preparation for pregnancy, 400 micrograms of folic acid is the daily recommendation for women. Once a woman knows she is pregnant, the intake should increase to at least 600 micrograms per day. Some doctors recommend up to 1000 micrograms per day. And since folic acid is not easy to overdose on, this higher end (1000 micrograms) is the amount contained in most prenatal vitamins.
If a woman shows previous risk factors for her child development an NTD, such as a past history of pregnancies with NTDs or miscarriages, she may want to increase her folic acid intake up to 4000 micrograms per day. This increase dosage should not be self-diagnosed; rather, consult with a doctor before committing to this daily amount, which is ten times the normal recommended intake.
The kind of folic acid needed during pregnancy is man made. It does not occur naturally in the earth’s food products. The kind found in natural products, such as green vegetables, is not as easily absorbed by the body. This is one of the main reasons why prenatal vitamins are so important, especially for a person who eats a mostly natural diet. All enriched grain products have the man made folic acid added by FDA requirement, so eating breads and pastas on a daily basis should help maintain your correct intake.
For a woman not taking prenatal vitamins for any reason, or for a regular person who wants to make sure to get the correct amount of folic acid, a multivitamin generally contains a daily dosage. This may be important for any woman who could possibly get pregnant, even if she is not actively trying. Maintaining the correct daily intake will ensure proper development of any possible fetuses.