Folic Acid Tablets For Pregnancy: What You Should Know About It?

Folic Acid Tablets For Pregnancy

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid, a form of vitamin B9, is commonly known as folate. When obtained from natural food sources, it's referred to as folate, while when synthesized for supplementation or food fortification, it's termed folic acid.

Crucial during pregnancy, folic acid plays a pivotal role in preventing specific birth defects. It is vital for DNA production, repair, and function – the genetic blueprint and fundamental component of cells. This nutrient is essential for the rapid cell growth of both the placenta and the developing baby. Folic acid is also necessary for the production of normal red blood cells, preventing folate-deficiency anemia. It aids in averting certain birth defects and contributes to the healthy development of both the placenta and the baby.

Why is Folic Acid Essential During Pregnancy?

For pregnant individuals or those planning to conceive, ensuring an adequate intake of folic acid is of paramount importance due to its role in preventing neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida (affecting the spinal cord) and anencephaly (affecting the brain). The neural tube, which develops into the baby's spine and brain, forms during the early weeks of pregnancy, often before pregnancy is even detected. Thus, initiating folic acid supplementation prior to conception is crucial.

In addition to significantly reducing the risk of NTDs, sufficient folic acid intake may also lower the likelihood of:

  • Cleft lip and cleft palate
  • Certain congenital heart defects
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Preterm birth

How Much Folic Acid Is Necessary For Pregnancy?

You require 600 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid during pregnancy. Meeting this requirement solely through diet can be challenging, so it's advisable to supplement your intake.

Researcher suggest that all women of childbearing age take a daily supplement containing 400 mcg of folic acid. It's best to commence supplementation at least a month before attempting to conceive and continue throughout pregnancy. Certain organizations recommend increasing daily supplementation to 600 mcg once pregnancy is confirmed and maintaining this intake throughout pregnancy. Additionally, the NIH advises taking 500 mcg of folic acid daily while breastfeeding.

As individual needs vary, consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate folic acid dosage for you. Review the folic acid content of your prenatal vitamin on its label. If it falls short, consider switching brands or taking a separate folic acid supplement. However, refrain from consuming more than one prenatal vitamin or multivitamin per day.

Do I Require Additional Folic Acid?

Some individuals may require higher doses of folic acid beyond the standard recommendation. It's essential to discuss your folic acid needs with your healthcare provider if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • History of a previous pregnancy with a baby affected by a neural tube defect (NTD), you or your partner has an NTD, or your partner has a child with an NTD. In such cases, your provider may recommend a daily intake of 4,000 mcg of folic acid for at least three months before conception and during the initial three months of pregnancy. Post this period, your provider will advise on the appropriate dosage.
  • Diabetic or taking specific antileisure medications. These conditions elevate the risk of having a baby with an NTD. It's advisable to consult your provider at least a month before attempting to conceive to determine the appropriate folic acid dosage and overall condition monitoring.
  • Diagnosis of celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or a digestive disorder. These conditions can hinder folate absorption.
  • Expecting twins. If you're pregnant with multiples, your healthcare provider may suggest a daily intake of up to 1,000 mcg of folic acid.

What Are The Side Effects For Folic Acid

In general, folic acid is well-tolerated by most individuals when taken at doses below 1,000 mcg per day. Most people don't have problems when they get enough folate from food. But taking too much folic acid for a long time might cause:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Gas
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Irritability
  • Confusion

Symptoms Of A Folic Acid Deficiency

The signs of not having enough folic acid can be hard to spot. Even if you have a mild deficiency, you might not feel any symptoms, but it means you're not getting the best amount of folic acid for your baby's early growth. If you do notice signs, they could be:

  • Fatigue and weakness: These are common early signs of a folic acid deficiency.
  • Shortness of breath: Feeling winded even with minimal exertion can be a symptom.
  • Headaches: Frequent headaches can be a red flag.
  • Pale skin: Pallor can indicate a deficiency affecting red blood cell production.
  • Tingling or prickling in hands and feet: This uncomfortable sensation can be a sign of nerve damage.
  • Mouth sores: These can develop in severe cases of folic acid deficiency.
  • Diarrhea: Upset stomach and loose stools can occur.
  • Confusion: In severe deficiency, cognitive issues like confusion may arise.