Folic acid is a vitamin that is very important for the healthy development of a baby. If you are planning to become pregnant you should consider taking a supplement.
Folic acid is from the B Group of vitamins and it is important for everyone. It is responsible for healthy cell growth and development. It is particularly important for a pregnant woman or a woman planning to conceive. Before a woman is aware that she is pregnant her baby’s spinal cord and brain are already being formed. This is why it is so important that there is enough in the woman’s system ahead of conception.
Folic acid helps to prevent potentially serious birth defects which affect the spinal cord and brain such as spina-bifida and anencephaly. Spin-bifida result in life-long disability and anencephaly which prevents the proper formation of the baby’s brain and skull is nearly always fatal.
Women planning to conceive should ideally start taking this vitamin at least three months before they conceive and continue to take it until they are twelve weeks pregnant. This is usually at 400 mcg per day taken in the form of a single supplement or as part of a multivitamin suitable for pre-pregnancy and pregnancy. Ask your health care professional about this vitamin when you decide to become pregnant. This is because there are some conditions and certain circumstances which may require you to take a higher dose. However, this must be under medical direction only.
Once you are 12 weeks pregnant your baby’s spine will have developed, so you can stop taking it if you choose to. However, your doctor may recommend that you continue to take supplements.