Folic acid is very important for all women during pregnancy. Also known as folate, folic acid is a B vitamin and plays a vital role in the production of red blood cells. There are lots of folic acid rich foods but only dietary source of folic acid is not sufficient during pregnancy. So, folic acid supplement is necessary along with folate rich foods for a healthy pregnancy. In fact, it should be taken before you are pregnant, though on the recommendation of your doctor who will know better how much folic acid your body needs before, during and after pregnancy.
Dietary sources of folic acid include:
- Green leafy vegetables – Rich sources are amaranth, ambat chukka, spinach, mint
- Oilseeds like gingelly (til) and soya bean
- Orange Juice
- Other legumes like green gram and red gram
- Black-eyed beans
- Cluster beans
- Enriched grains
Since, folates get dissolved in water, boiling the vegetables and draining off the water will destroy all the folates they contain. So, it is better that the vegetables are steamed or cooked in a microwave to help you to get all the nutrients.
Benefits of folic acid during pregnancy:
- Produces red blood cells
- Protects your baby from neural tube defects like spina bifida
- Prevents your baby from birth defects like cleft palate
- Protects you from suffering from anaemia
- Prevents your baby from brain defects like anencephaly
Most of the defects occur during the first month of pregnancy when most women don’t even realize that they are pregnant. It is better to plan your pregnancy and have the required amount of folic acid before getting pregnant or during the childbearing age. But consuming more than recommended may be harmful to you and your baby’s health. So, take folic acid supplements as recommended and have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.