The benefits of taking Folic Acid during pregnancy
Having a baby is one of the biggest decisions you will ever make.
Welcoming a new life into the world and nurturing them into healthy, happy adulthood is one of life’s real joys.
Like all parents, whether you’re a first-timer or an experienced hand, you’ll want what’s best for your new-born.
So, it’s likely that you will need to make lots of sacrifices and changes to your lifestyle to prepare for a healthy pregnancy. There are many key elements to this.
For your baby’s sake, you must maintain good health with a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, antioxidants, protein, vitamins and minerals. Natural vitamin supplements are vital and will ensure you get the required amount of vital nutrients, such as Folic Acid, that aid a healthy pregnancy. Here, we take a closer look at the best ways of preparing for pregnancy, why Folic Acid is essential, and some other things you can do to keep your baby healthy.
PREPARING FOR PREGNANCY
Whether it’s your first time or you already have children, everything changes once you fall pregnant.
Suddenly, you’re no longer responsible for your own wellbeing only. You’ve got your new baby’s health to consider too.
When it comes to preparing for pregnancy, your own and your family’s health history is an essential tool. Some underlying health issues can cause pregnancy complications. Treating conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and lupus before you conceive can improve your chances of a healthy pregnancy.
If you are trying to conceive, or are already pregnant, making your GP or healthcare provider aware of your own and your family’s health history is essential. They must be aware of any health conditions that run in your family. If you can, it’s a good idea to put your family health history together before you get pregnant so that you can share it with your doctor at your first check-up.
Getting your body ready for the changes that pregnancy brings is also important. That means cleaning up your diet, cutting out unhealthy habits, getting lots of gentle exercise and making sure you get the right vitamins, minerals and nutrients that support a healthy pregnancy. So, make sure your diet includes lots of fresh fruit and veg, wholegrains, lean proteins and unsaturated fats. Try to knock processed sugar, junk food, cigarettes and alcohol on the head, and watch your caffeine and Vitamin A intake – these can all harm your unborn baby. Also, limit sweets, salty snacks and foods high in saturated fat. Avoid creamy or unpasteurised cheese, oily fish, raw eggs, uncooked shellfish, liver products and nuts during pregnancy, as these can also harm your baby. The NHS has a handy checklist of foods to avoid and why.
And if you are trying to conceive, make sure you take Folic Acid for at least three months before becoming pregnant and continue to take it throughout your pregnancy’s early stages.
THE BENEFITS OF TAKING FOLIC ACID
Folic Acid is a B vitamin found in many fortified foods and food supplements. Your body uses it to create new cells and produce DNA. It supports the normal growth and development of your body cells and tissue at all life stages. Taking Folic Acid before and during pregnancy is essential. It helps ensure your baby’s delicate organs develop properly in the womb and help prevent birth issues such as neural tube defects, congenital heart problems and spina bifida. It can also help prevent conditions like cleft lip and cleft palate.
All pregnant women should take at least 400 micrograms of Folic Acid daily.
If you are planning to conceive, you should start taking Folic Acid as soon as you make the decision. Many women don’t realise they are pregnant until six weeks or more after conception. However, as neural tube defects occur during the first month of pregnancy, you may not have enough Folic Acid in your body to prevent this until after your pregnancy has been confirmed.
Certain conditions may also require you to take higher doses of Folic Acid, including kidney, sickle cell or liver disease, or if you take medication to treat epilepsy, type 2 diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma or inflammatory bowel disease.
If you regularly consume alcohol, you may also need to take a higher dose of Folic Acid. Avoiding alcohol altogether when pregnant is desirable.
HOW TO GET ENOUGH FOLIC ACID
It’s recommended that you take a 400-microgram folic acid tablet every day while trying to conceive and until you’re 12 weeks pregnant. If you did not take Folic Acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. As well as taking a Folic Acid supplement, you should increase the number of foods containing folate – the natural form of Folic Acid – in your daily diet.
Green, leafy vegetables, fortified breakfast cereals and some fat spreads are good sources of folate.
It’s difficult to get the recommended daily amount of Folic Acid from food alone, which is why it’s essential to take a supplement.
Lily & Loaf’s Nature’s Prenatal supplement is specially formulated for preconception, pregnancy and nursing. It includes a balanced combination of vitamins A, C, D, and E, plus a range of B vitamins, to support mother and baby. Each capsule contains 800 micrograms of Folic Acid, more than enough to ensure you get the recommended daily amount.
OTHER NUTRIENTS TO SUPPORT A HEALTHY PREGNANCY
Alongside Folic Acid, there are a few other essential nutrients you may need more of during pregnancy to support your baby’s health.
These include Vitamin D, which regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Your body makes its own Vitamin D when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but if you are concerned you might not be getting enough, you can either take a natural Vitamin D supplement or eat more eggs or lean red meat.
Iron will prevent tiredness and fatigue and help prevent you from developing anaemia. Lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit and nuts all contain iron, but you should take care with the latter, particularly if you have a nut allergy. And of course, you can take natural supplements which contain iron to help top up any shortfall.
Vitamin C is vital not just when you are pregnant but throughout your life. It protects cells and helps keep them healthy. Vitamin C is found in a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, including oranges, red and green peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes.
And calcium is vital for the normal development of your baby’s bones and teeth. It’s found in milk, cheese and yoghurt, green leafy vegetables like rocket, watercress and kale, tofu, soy drinks or supplements with added calcium, bread and any foods made with fortified flour.
Check out these links to find out more:
- Nature's Prenatal
- Keeping well and foods to avoid
- Vitamin D3
- Super Supplemental
- Vitamin C
- Calcium Magnesium
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