If folate-rich foods are on your agenda, increase your intake of beans, peas, and lentils for starters. Brussels sprouts, okra, spinach, and romaine lettuce can also pitch in. So can asparagus, beef liver, and oranges. Throw in some crunchy sunflower seeds, earthy beets, and indulgent avocado for good measure!
Cashew nuts can be a perfectly good source of energy if you’re pregnant. They have a lot of goodness courtesy the magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, zinc, and vitamin K they contain. Unfortunately, if you are allergic to cashew nuts, the side effects may put your health and pregnancy at risk. Also, these calorie-packed nuts can easily cause you to gain more weight than you should. So be wary if you are already overweight.
Folic acid is a critical B vitamin for your body when you’re planning a pregnancy. It significantly lowers risk of major neural tube birth defects in the baby including spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele and can ward off folate deficiency anemia in the expectant mum, too. Just be sure to get the right dosage – too much can be equally bad. If you have a family history of neural tube defects, are diabetic, or have epilepsy, however, you may need higher folate intake. For everyone else, a 0.4mg intake will suffice.
Folate and folic acid are natural and synthetic forms, respectively, of vitamin B9. You get folate through natural foods like leafy greens and nuts and folic acid from supplements or fortified food grains. Unless you have a chronic deficiency or a special need, like during pregnancy, get your folate solely from food. Whereas folate protects against cancer, excess folic acid is linked to increased cancer risk.
Excess folic acid may harm your baby by causing nervous damage (leading to autism), insulin resistance, obesity, or cognitive impairment. It may also increase risks of mammary tumors in the to-be mom. Daily recommended supplement intake of folic acid for pregnant women is 400–800 mcg. Folic acid available in natural form in dark green leafy veggies, fruits, nuts, and beans is not harmful.
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