Folic acid – which is also well known as vitamin B9, or folate, or methylfolate – is a water-soluble vitamin. As the body cannot store this vitamin for a long time, a daily supplement is necessary. It is used for the production of blood cells, wound healing, helping to build muscle.
Due to its functions, folic acid is necessary for its formation DNA and RNA and to ensure that cells replicate normally. At the beginning of pregnancy, it is of fundamental importance for the development of the embryo, because it is a time of great cell replication.
The vitamin also helps in the production of basic chemicals for the brain and nervous system. Like all vitamins, folic acid is essential for the proper functioning of the metabolism. Its deficiency or excess can cause health problems.
Folic acid and its benefits during pregnancy
Adequate levels of folic acid during conception and during the first three months of pregnancy greatly reduce the risk of serious birth defects in babies. The use of folic acid is very important for you and the development of your baby during pregnancy.
Even in a healthy, natural pregnancy or through assisted fertilization, the intake of folic acid is warmly recommended, because it reduces the risk of malformations of the baby’s central nervous system. Supplementation prevents the appearance of problems in the fetal neural tube, which is formed in the first months of pregnancy, and includes a primitive structure that creates the brain and spinal cord.
Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients for a baby
Folic acid is responsible for reducing the risk of defects in the brain and spine, which is called nerve tube deficiency. The neural tube becomes the baby’s brain and spinal cord in the first month of pregnancy, and this period is the most dangerous for creating disability.
Therefore, it is recommended that you increase your folic acid intake before conception. In addition, folic acid is also responsible for helping placenta formation and DNA development, as well as reducing the risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
In general, a dose of 600 mcg per day is recommended for pregnant women, and the dose can be suspended after the first 3 months of pregnancy, because folic acid acts for up to a year. All recommendations, however, must be confirmed by your prenatalist.
The WHO – World Health Organization – also recommends a preventive supplement for pregnant women who have started prenatal care, regardless of gestational age.
Where we find folic acid
One of the most common sources of folic acid are all plants with green leaves, with special emphasis on spinach, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce and primrose. Grains, beans, mushrooms, chicken liver, eggs, brewer’s yeast and wheat germ also have good amounts of folic acid.
Fruits such as avocados, mangoes, oranges, tomatoes, melons and bananas should also be on the menu for those who want to balance the level of folic acid in the body.
Foods rich in folate are quite varied and their menu will not become monotonous. It is always good to remember that part of the folic acid present can be lost during cooking and food preparation.
Another source of pvpg vitamins are supplements, drugs and fortified products. Supplements are most suitable if there is a lack of folic acid in the body.
Risks of overuse
Folate is a water-soluble vitamin and this facilitates its regulation in the body: all excess will be naturally eliminated through urine. Therefore, overdose does not happen with food, but it can happen if you use folic acid as a dietary supplement.
Intake of an overdose of folic acid can result in digestive problems, abdominal pain, nausea and skin reactions. Vitamin B12 deficiency and consequent anemia can also occur. Amounts above 5000 micrograms per day are considered dangerous.
Therefore, it is worth paying attention to excessive use and taking into account the doses.
Women of childbearing potential need 400 mcg of folic acid daily.
Severe birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine appear very early in pregnancy (3 to 4 weeks after conception), before most women realize that they are pregnant.
If you are taking folic acid, consuming a dose higher than 400 mcg per day is not necessarily better to prevent nerve tube damage, unless your doctor recommends taking a larger amount for other conditions.
When planning to become pregnant, women who have already had a pregnancy with neural tube defects should consult their doctor. The CDC recommends that these women consume 4,000 mcg of folic acid daily for one month before becoming pregnant and during the first three months of pregnancy.
Other benefits for the body
In the human body, vitamin B9 performs some specific functions and mainly acts to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, folic acid prevents heart disease and stroke.
Numerous factors, including B vitamins, including folate, are needed to strengthen the immune system. Vitamin B9 folic acid also reduces possible hearing loss in the elderly; treats poor kidney function;
This vitamin also regulates the production and use of homocysteine, a substance similar to an amino acid that can damage blood vessel tissue at high levels, making them more susceptible to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques (narrowed due to fat accumulation).
In addition, folic acid can help prevent certain cancers, including lung, cervix , colon and rectum. Applying sufficient doses of this vitamin can also prevent thousands of deaths from heart disease.
Continuing with the list of benefits, folic acid plays an important role in the health of the skin, nails and hair. This vitamin helps in growth and fights acne and dermatitis, leaving the skin a healthy glow and controlled oil.
In addition to being necessary for the development of the nervous system of the fetus, folate is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain and plays an important role in cognitive abilities and mental and emotional health. It acts as a cofactor in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that guarantees good mood.
Medical monitoring during pregnancy is of the utmost importance to avoid complications. Any medicine, substance or vitamin should be prescribed and prescribed by a doctor.
How can you get enough folic acid
In addition to eating foods with folate as part of a varied diet, women can also get folic acid in the following ways:
Take a vitamin that contains folic acid.
Most vitamins sold in the United States contain the recommended daily amount of folic acid (400 mcg) that women need.
Vitamins can be purchased at most local drugstores, supermarkets. Check the package label to make sure it contains 100% of the daily nutritional requirement for folic acid, which is 400 mcg.
Eat fortified foods.
Folic acid can be found in breakfast cereals and corn porridge.
Be sure to read the Nutrition Facts label and look for products that say “100%” next to the word “folate.”
Combined use of vitamins and foods rich in folate.