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 is natural while folic is synthetic form of folate. Folate is processed in the small intestine while folic acid is first processed in the liver and converted to folate before being available for different biochemical and physiological processes in the body. Folate can help prevent health problems like heart disease, certain cancers, and birth defects. However, while high levels of folate is quite safe, too much folic acid in the body can mean increased health problems.
Go for regular screen tests if you're 50 or have a family history of polyps, cancer, or IBD. Avoid red meat or processed meat. Load up on fibrous and colorful veggies and antioxidant-rich berries. Eat dairy products for calcium and spinach and sprouts for folic acid. Exercise in the sun for vitamin D and to keep obesity at bay. Go easy on the booze and stop smoking altogether.
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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