Folic acid (known as Vitamin B9 or folate) is a food supplement that is not synthesized in natural circumstances. Folic acid primarily aids the repair of DNA and the production of red blood cells.
Folic Acid in Pregnancy
Folic acid is used to prevent birth defects associated with the neural tube (The neural tube is what develops into the spinal cord). If the requirements of folic acid intake are not met, then a condition known as ‘spina bifida’ may occur. In spina bifida, part of the spinal cord is exposed in the back. The effects can range from learning difficulties to paralysis or lower limbs. Although it is an unfortunate condition, its prevention is not difficult to accomplish.
The use of Folic Acid in the prevention of Spina Bifida
The main cause of spina bifida is the lack of folic acid in the diet. Folic acid is found in cold cereals, breads, pasta, leafy vegetables (spinach, lettuce and broccoli), okra, asparagus, fruits (bananas, lemons and melons), beef, orange juice and tomato juice. Of course, folic acid supplements are also available for use. Too much folic acid can be dangerous, so make sure to keep consumption at a reasonable level. Ideally, a pill of 400 micrograms should be taken daily until your 12th week of pregnancy.
Some women may need higher doses if they are diabetic, or if there is a history of neural tube defects in either parent. In these cases, it is advised that 5 milligram tablets are taken. If the mother suffers from epilepsy, it is advised that they should take more folic acid as their epilepsy medication can dampen its effects. Whatever the circumstances, always ask a medical professional.
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