We describe some of The Benefits Of Folic Acid that you may be getting from your folic acid supplement during pregnancy. and some risks of taking too much.
Folic acid is important in the lead-up to conception and during pregnancy to help to reduce the risk of neural tube defects. But what does that really mean?
What Is Folic Acid?
Folic acid is a type of vitamin B. Vitamins B are a collection of vitamins used for metabolic processes, which is a fancy way of saying that they help our body to run. They’re involved in basic functions such as digesting foods and building new cells, so you can understand that it’s essential that we get enough every day of our lives, but especially during pregnancy when your body is not only maintaining your daily functioning but building a baby as well.
Some Benefits Of Folic Acid
Here are some best Benefits Of Folic Acid.
- Reducing the risk of anemia: Your blood volume increases by 150% during pregnancy to provide oxygen and nutrients to your placenta and baby. Benefits Of Folic Acid plays an important role in building red blood cells, so without adequate amounts, you can develop a condition called anemia. Anemia simply means that you don’t have an adequate number of red blood cells for your needs, and this can stop you feeling tired and short of breath.
- Prevention of pre-term birth: Pre-term birth is defined as going into labor before 37 weeks of pregnancy. When you go into labor early, your baby isn’t as well developed, so it increases the risks of health complications. Now, the reason for the link between folate deficiency and pre-term birth is not yet known, but studies suggest that women who have a folate deficiency, are indeed at higher risk of pre-term birth.
One of the most common causes of pre-term birth is an inflammatory response often caused by an infection; folate is also important for a healthy immune system, so you can see how women who are low in folate may be more susceptible to infection, and consequently, pre-term birth.
- Reducing the risk of neural tube defects: When you conceive, your egg and your partner’s sperm join together to become an embryo. The cells of the embryo divide to create more cells and the embryo implants into the wall of your uterus. How we said that folic acid is a B vitamin, so involved in metabolism? Well, folic acid plays an important role in helping cells to divide, which is obviously an essential role in these first days and weeks of life. The first part of your baby is formed in your baby’s neural tube.
Our neural tube is our brain and spinal cord which includes all our neurons, or nerve cells, that are cells that are responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, sending motor commands to our muscles, and relaying electrical signals to different parts of our body. So, if some cells aren’t divided properly, this can result in damage to the neural tube or miscarriage. I hope that helps make things a little clearer for you. But, as I mentioned, that’s not folic acid’s only job during pregnancy!
- Boosting fertility: Studies suggest that women who take a nutritional supplement that includes folic acid are more likely to get pregnant within 12 months. For example, one study of women who took a folic acid supplement for 3 months found that 26% became pregnant compared to only 10% of women who weren’t taking folic acid. It’s likely that the reason that women who take a folic acid supplement have higher rates of conception is that the neural tube is able to develop with fewer issues, however, this still hasn’t been proven.
- Minimizing the risk of growth restriction: Earlier we discussed the importance of folate for cell division and growth, so it’s no surprise that studies also suggest a link between folate deficiency and an increased risk of growth restriction. A lack of growth during pregnancy is technically known as ‘small for gestational age’ or ‘SGA’.
Delivering a small baby means that your baby has a higher risk of struggling with their weight later in life. So, you can see that the Benefits Of Folic Acid are really important when you’re trying to conceive and pregnant. But make sure that you speak to a dietitian to ensure that you’re getting the right dose for your personal needs. Too much can be as detrimental as too little.