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Folic Acid and Pregnancy

By Brian Xu | 13 July 2020 | 0 Comments
Folic acid is a vitamin B that is used to treat anemia caused by folate deficiency and is a nutritional supplement for pregnant women. More than half of neural tube defects in newborns are attributed to a folic acid deficiency in early pregnancy. Folic acid can be found in many foods, especially dark green leafy vegetables and animal livers. It is so important that the United States has mandated fortification of certain grain foods with folic acid since January 1, 1998. The FDA requires that every kilogram of grain be fortified with 1.4mg of folic acid, which has since been followed by Canada, Australia, Mexico, Chile and more other countries.
Today Im going to use a simple Q&A to answer some common questions that will help to learn everything about folic acid.

Q: When should I start taking folic acid?
A: Three months before pregnancy until the first three months during pregnancy. The reason for starting folic acid supplementation three months before pregnancy is that it takes about two to three months for folic acid to metabolize in our bodies and reach an effective concentration. For women who are deficient in folic acid, supplementation in advance is the only way to maintain a certain concentration of folic acid in the body during early pregnancy. In addition, the important time of fetal nervous system development is 3-6 weeks of pregnancy, in early pregnancy to continue to supplement folic acid, in order to better achieve the role of preventing fetal neural tube malformation.

Q: Do fathers-to-be need folic acid?
A: Yes, they do. According to a study by California State University, men with high levels of folic acid were significantly less likely to develop sperm abnormalities. Folic acid can affect DNA synthesis, and if men have low levels of folic acid, sperm counts with chromosomal abnormalities can rise significantly. So in order to improve the quality of sperm, men should also take adequate folic acid supplements during pregnancy.

Q: How much folic acid should I take daily?
A: 0.4mg - 0.8mg and no more than 1mg. A daily supplement of 0.4mg or 0.8mg of folic acid is recommended from the time of possible pregnancy to at least 3 months of gestation. Folic acid daily supplementation is recommended to be increased to 5mg for those couples who had neural tube defects themselves. So the folic acid supplementation during pregnancy is 0.4 or 0.8mg per day.

Q: What are the disadvantages of over-dose in pregnant women?
A: Large doses of folic acid (more than 1mg) taken by pregnant women may affect zinc absorption, leading to zinc deficiency and increasing the likelihood of fetal growth retardation and low birth weight.

Q: How long should I keep taking folic acid?
A: Pregnant women should start supplementing with 0.4mg-0.8mg of folic acid per month before the first 3 months of pregnancy and continue throughout the pregnancy.

Q: What foods are good for a folic acid supplement?
A: Top ten foods are - chicken liver, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, pumpkin, cauliflower, banana, mango and orange. Foods rich in folic acid are liver, beans, asparagus, spinach, avocado, orange juice, generally in yellow/green vegetables and fruits, so women should have more vegetables and fruits after getting pregnant.

Q: Is there anything else that I need to know?
A: Folic acid is water-soluble and heat-sensitive, some of them will destroy by cooking, so there is generally no need to worry about getting too much through food.
   You can increase the efficiency of folic acid intake through salad or juice.
   Folic acid medicine should be kept in a dry and cool place away from sunlight. Because folic acid breaks down in the presence of water and light.
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