The formation of DNA is necessary for rapid cell growth which is considered necessary to create fetal organs in the first few months of pregnancy. This is possible through the intake of folic acid. Folic acid is a synthetic B-vitamin form which is vital for the development of the embryo. It is found in vitamin supplements and is also added to fortified food. Folic acid can reduce the risk of birth defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord known as neural tube defect.
Importance of folic acid
Since our body can absorb and use folic acid in vitamin supplements effectively, doctors around the world opine that women must take folic acid throughout their reproductive years and not just before or during pregnancy. Enough folic acid in women before and during pregnancy can prevent serious birth defects like:
Spina bifida -
If the unborn baby’s spinal column does not close it implies that it cannot protect the spinal cord. Children born with this condition have lifelong disabilities as leg movements and other functions do not work.
Some part of the brain or the entire brain does not develop due to which babies born with this problem may die in the womb or soon after birth.
Experts believe that folic acid has a significant role to play in heart health and can also prevent cell changes that may lead to cancer. However more research is required to authenticate this claim.
The correct Intake
The best way to get enough folic acid into our body is by taking a vitamin supplement containing folic acid. This can be easily purchased over the counter. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women planning or capable of pregnancy take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 mg (400 to 800 µg) of folic acid.
For a healthy fetal development, folic acid is necessary. Make sure you consult your doctor and take the recommended dosage of folic acid.
Written by: Dr. Rohini
Edited by: C. Soni