Folic acid: why you need it before and during pregnancy?

You're planning your pregnancy or already having baby?  Let's find out what you have to know about folic acid.

Folic acids that is also called Vitamin B9 or foliate, is a vitamin that helps protect and grow cells in your body. You can find it both in foods and in multivitamin supplements.
Why it is important to take folic acid before and during pregnancy?
 
You may need folic acid when cells in your body begin to grow and divide quickly. This is a regular process during your pregnancy, when your womb expands, the fetus grows and blood circulation becomes more active than usually. Folic acid is essential for healthy pregnancy.
Your baby is growing very quickly. That is why getting healthy eating habits along with getting sufficient amount of minerals and vitamins (including folic acid) before and during pregnancy can help you prevent certain birth defects.
How to receive enough folic acid?
Folic acid can be taken from citrus fruit, dark green & leafy vegetables, whole grains, and some other foods. Below you can find a list of foods, rich in folic acid:

  • Spinach
  • Fortified grains
  • Asparagus
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Oranges

It may be complicated to get enough folic acid every day. That's why Canadian experts recommend taking folic acid from multivitamins.
When should you take folic acid supplements?
Taking into account the fact that folic acid is very important in the early stages of pregnancy, you may start taking folic acid when you're trying to conceive. Even before you become pregnant you should try to get your daily dose of folic acid. Proceed during pregnancy and for at least 4 weeks after birth and during the period when you are breastfeeding.
Can you have too much folic acid?
If you eat a balanced diet and take a multivitamin rich with folic acid, you won't end up with any extra in your body. If you take too much of folic acid, usually it will just pass in your urine. Consult your physician to find out how much folic acid you should take daily.
However, taking more vitamins than necessary can be harmful. Make sure you don't take more than the recommended dose of your multivitamin per day. Choose multivitamin with vitamin A instead of retinol, as big amount of retinol may become the cause of birth defects.