This B vitamin has two forms: folic acid is synthetic while folate is naturally gotten from food sources. Folic acid is also called vitamin B9, which our bodies use to produce new, healthy cells especially, red blood cells.
Though folic acid is most commonly recommended for people who are pregnant or attempting to get pregnant to minimize the chances of birth defects, it is an essential nutrient that everyone needs
Two ways to get folic acid into our body: by eating foods rich in these nutrients, taking supplements, or taking fortified foods.
While almost everyone may be able to get good amounts of the nutrient solely by eating a diet rich in foods containing folate, those who are pregnant or may become pregnant need more so they are always advised to eat foods rich in folate, and take folic acid supplements which are routinely prescribed during antenatal visits.
There are various foods you can add to your diet to increase your folate intake. They include; spinach, nuts, beans, beef liver, and so on.
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A pregnant woman (or someone who is trying to get pregnant) needs about 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
Folic acid is very vital both before and during pregnancy because it can help protect a developing fetus against neural tube defects; a group of serious birth defects that affect these parts of the body:
In some instances, it may be very severe and result in death.
Neural tube defects take place within the first few weeks of pregnancy possibly before a female knows she's pregnant. This is why your doctor will recommend taking 400 mcg of folic acid daily.
Here's are the two most common neural tube defects;
Anencephaly: In this condition, the brain and skull do not fully develop well in utero. Almost all pregnancies involving anencephaly result in miscarriage, or the likelihood of the baby dying shortly after birth.
Spina bifida: A woman who's deficient in either folic or folate may have a fetus' spinal column that does not fully close in utero, leaving the spinal cord exposed to the external. After giving birth to that baby, the nerves that control the legs and other organs may not work efficiently, often leaving the baby with disabilities and possibly handicapped.
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