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icoFolic acid in pregnancy - with you from planning to breastfeeding

Folic acid - those of us who are pregnant, or are planning a pregnancy soon, know that this is undoubtedly one of the most critical and essential vitamins for the proper functioning of our body. In this article, we will shed light on the great contribution of folic acid, how it helps in building the cells of the body, and the importance of taking it before and during pregnancy!

The importance and need for folic acid in pregnancy 

So what is folic acid?

Folic acid is a vitamin that belongs to the group of B vitamins, and is also known as B9. In general, it plays a vital role in building, creating, and preserving new body cells, and it is especially necessary during pregnancy and fetal growth, when there is rapid division of cells in our body. In fact, the role of folic acid in pregnancy is to prepare the body (already at the stage of planning a pregnancy) for the pregnancy itself, and the stages that come after the pregnancy. 

From dreaming of pregnancy to breastfeeding the baby

The vital need for folic acid has been proven and tested in health organizations all over the world, and it has been found to contribute significantly to the normal development of the fetal brain, nervous system and other bodily systems during pregnancy. It has also been found that taking folic acid during pregnancy contributes to the prevention of preeclampsia, and also significantly reduces the risk of developing congenital defects in the fetus. 

“In Israel and around the world, women of childbearing age, both before pregnancy and in the first three months, are recommended to take folic acid. Why?

In the first weeks of pregnancy the organs of the fetus develop, including the brain and spine. A deficiency in the normal development of individual cells in the early stages of pregnancy, even before the mother knows she is pregnant, can cause defects in an entire system.

It is important to know that it is recommended to continue taking folic acid throughout the pregnancy, both for the normal development and growth of the fetus, and also to prevent anemia in the pregnant woman. Also, since in many cases the pregnancy is not planned, there are those who recommend taking folic acid every day throughout the years of fertility.

How can folic acid be taken? 

Generally speaking, folic acid can be acquired naturally by eating various foods: leafy greens - spinach, turnips, chard, and cabbage; legumes - peas, sprouts, peanuts, and whole grains; citrus fruits; and from animal sources such as meat, and internal organs such as liver. 

However, it is difficult to consume the amount of folic acid required in pregnancy through food alone, and the solution comes from an external source such as dietary supplements.  In addition, natural folic acid cannot substitute for that which comes from an outside source, as it is not fully absorbed by the body.

Folic acid dosage during pregnancy

The recommended dose of folic acid for women of childbearing age is at least 400 mcg per day. Women who have previously given birth to a baby with a defect, who have a family history of defects, or who are diabetic or overweight will be recommended to take folic acid during pregnancy in a dose that may sometimes exceed 5 mg per day - a dose that must, of course, only be decided by a qualified gynecologist

So many types of folic acid, how can we choose?

There are so many options, and yet we will have to choose one. Our recommendation is to take folic acid in a folate derivative.  Why?

Folate is the active and natural derivative of vitamin B9 (folic acid). The name folate is derived from the Latin word Folium (leaves), because natural folic acid is found in high concentration in green leaves. The unique feature of natural folic acid in folate derivative is that the acid comes "ready for the body", without the need for additional conversions and processes, which provides maximum and efficient absorption by the body, just like in nature. This is in contrast to ordinary (synthetic, laboratory-produced) folic acid, which is not bound to a methyl derivative, and needs a special enzyme in the body called MTHFR to enable it to become an active derivative and be absorbed in the body in an optimal way. In most of the population, and in many women (about 40%), this enzyme is damaged or only partially active, which impairs the ability of the body to absorb the folic acid. Moreover, compared to taking regular folic acid, taking folate was found to be more effective and safer than others.

Without fear of side effects

We all try to avoid taking supplements that cause us side effects, this is completely obvious and understandable. The beauty of folic acid, unlike other supplements, is that folic acid has no side effects, and so it can be taken without fear.  

To sum up, folic acid in pregnancy is absolutely (and certainly) essential for a normal pregnancy for the fetus and for the pregnant mother. 

Have an easy and healthy pregnancy!

 

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