Why Do We Need Folic Acid During Pregnancy?

Why Do We Need Folic Acid During Pregnancy?
July 6, 2017 blackginger

Concerned about folic acid and why it’s so important to include in your pregnancy diet? Read why it’s vital for your healthy pregnancy and how to eat it here

folic acid during pregnancy and how to include it in your dietFolic acid is essential to include in your healthy pregnancy diet – make sure you get enough! Folic acid can help to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. Ideally you need to start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid whilst you’re trying to conceive – but if you didn’t take a supplement before you became pregnant you should make sure you get enough folic acid during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
Talk to your GP or midwife about taking a supplement during the early stages of your pregnancy. If there is an increased risk of your baby being affected by a neural tube defect they might recommend a higher dose of folic acid. Reasons for this might be

  • If you or your partner have a neural tube defect – or a family history of spina bifida
  • If you have previously had a baby with a neural tube defect
  • If you have diabetes

Foods high in folic acid

It’s important to make sure your pregnancy diet includes plenty of foods that are rich in folate:

  • Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts.
  • Asparagus is a real winner with the highest folic acid content of any vegetable. Just 5 ounces of asparagus will supply around 60% of your daily recommended dose
  • Broccoli – just steam it lightly to retain the vitamins
  • Fruit, especially oranges and grapefruits. One orange will provide around 50 mcg of folate – papaya have around double this amount!
  • Beans and peas, especially lentils
  • Avocado – which are also a great source of fatty acids and vitamin K
  • Seeds and nuts, including pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower and flax seeds

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