Folate (vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient that is required for DNA replication and lowers the risk of abnormalities, birth defects, and a miscarriage.
How does folate help development?
Folate (also known as folic acid) helps set the groundwork for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. It is an essential nutrient required for DNA replication and also a substrate for a range of enzymatic reactions involved in amino acid synthesis and vitamin metabolism. Without it, Your Child’s DNA might not replicate as it’s supposed to, leading to all kinds of risks. So, it’s important to have folate in your system during those early stages when your baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing.
Risks: birth defects and miscarriage
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1 in every 33 newborns in the US are experiencing birth defects, accounting for more than 20% of all infant mortalities. The consumption of folate acids can reduce that risk and lower the chance of neural tube defect like spina bifida, fetal anomalies such as cleft palate, or miscarriage.
Good sources of folate
In as much as expecting moms should take a prenatal vitamin that supplements them with all of the folic acid they need, it’s also good to pick up additional folate through diet, as women can safely consume up to 1,000 mcg each day.
Folate-rich food are:
- Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils
- Green vegetables like spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, and broccoli
- Asparagus and avocado
- Citrus fruits like oranges and papayas
How much folate do I need?
It is often recommended that all women take a supplement of 400 micrograms of folic acid a day when planning a pregnancy, as soon as they find out they are pregnant, and, at least, the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. If you don’t eat a lot of folate-rich foods, it is recommended to continue taking the supplement throughout pregnancy.
Dr. Wanwadee Sapmee Panyakat, MD. (5 July 2020)