When women get pregnant, they are advised to rush to the nearest health facility and get themselves some folic acid. 500 micrograms taken daily is what is often recommended. Folic acid is formulated as its own tablets or in combinations with other active ingredients like iron which is needed in pregnancy often called Fefol or in combination with other nutrients. These are called prenatal supplements the commonest brand being Pregnacare.
Supplementation with the above is needed because of respective increased demand. In fact the package inserts for Fefol indicates that the formulation among others is recommended for treatment and prevention of iron deficiency anaemia in pregnancy. Folic acid on the other hand is said to prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spinal cord. It is essential for the healthy formation of a structure called the neural tube which develops into the spinal cord and the brain. The tube may fail to close completely leading to conditions like Spina Bifida, where kids are borne with abnormally big heads for their body size.
Folic acid falls in the family of Vitamin B often known as Vitamin B complex. It is vital in the production of red blood cells. The best food sources of folic acid are fortified cereals which are said to be a good source of folic acid alongside dark green vegetables and citrus fruits naturally in which it occurs naturally according to http://www.webmd.com/baby/folic-acid-and-pregnancy . It is further noted that birth defects occur in the first four weeks in the womb for its around the same time that the structures in question are formed.
“One study showed that women who took folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant cut their chances of delivering early by 50 per cent or more,” they write, “the CDC recommends that you start taking folic acid every day for at least a month before you become pregnant, and every day while you are pregnant.
However, the CDC also recommends that all women of childbearing age take folic acid every day. So you’d be fine to start taking it even earlier.”
It is recommended that one takes 400mcg when they are trying to conceive and the same dosage for the first three months of pregnancy and 600mcg from the forth to the ninth month. 500mcg is recommended when one is breastfeeding.
They also state that if one has had a previous child with a neural tube defect, the daily dose should be increased to 4000 mcg (same as 4 mg) each day of folic acid.
Furthermore, it is noted that if taken before and during pregnancy, folic acid may also protect the baby against conditions such as cleft lip and palate, premature birth, low birth weight, miscarriage and poor growth in the womb. One’s doctor/pharmacist will always advise on dosage.