What is Folic Acid & Why is it Beneficial During Pregnancy?

What is Folic Acid?

Folic Acid which is also known by the name of vitamin B-9 or folate is a vitamin that is extremely important for everyone but is more important during pregnancy. Folate deficiency may lead to various health problems in people of all age groups but those females who are folate deficient and become pregnant may have serious birth defects in the baby and hence it is recommended for everyone to incorporate folic acid in their diet. It is estimated that about a third of females in the United States do not get enough folic acid in their diet.

Why is Folic Acid Beneficial During Pregnancy?

Why is Folic Acid Beneficial During Pregnancy?

Folic acid is not only important but also beneficial during pregnancy is due to the fact that lack of folic acid results in neural tube defects in the fetus. Neural tube defect is a congenital birth defect which affects the brain and the spinal cord. The most common conditions due to neural tube defects are spina bifida and anencephaly. Neural tube defects can be extremely serious and potentially fatal for a developing baby.

Research suggests that females with higher intake of Folic Acid in their diet or by using folate pills have a 50-70% decreased risk of having a baby with neural tube defects. It should be noted here that the neural tube closes by the 28th day of conceiving and hence many females may not even know that they are pregnant before the neural tube closes and thus it is recommended for females who are trying to conceive to start taking Folic Acid supplements much before so as to prevent any chances of neural tube defects in the baby.

Folic Acid not only prevents neural tube defects in the baby but is also beneficial in cell division and growth thus making the baby healthier. Adequate Folic Acid levels in the body also reduce the risk of other birth defects and miscarriage and preterm delivery.

Now coming to the question of whether there is an upper limit of consumption of Folic Acid, the answer is No. As of yet there has been no upper limit or a limit given to the amount of Folic Acid that a female should take but physicians usually recommend keeping the intake of Folic Acid down to below 1000 mcg in a day, as some unconfirmed reports suggest that excess of Folic Acid may cause wheezing and other respiratory problems in the baby but still as of now there is more evidence to suggest use of Folic Acid is more beneficial in pregnancy than not using Folic Acid.

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