Folic Acid

Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients that you'll need pre-pregnancy and in early pregnancy. You have probably been taking a supplement of this for several months while you were trying to conceive. If you haven't started taking it and you're in early pregnancy get some soon and take it daily. Most likely you will have been advised to start taking supplements as soon as you had your first appointment with a Doctor or Midwife. See below for more details on doses.

You may want to take some other daily multivitamin during your first trimester, but if you can find foods that you enjoy as opposed to vitamin pills, that would be preferable.

pregnant woman eating fruit

Folic acid or ‘folates’ are part of the B Vitamin Group and have many important functions. Did you know that 10 per cent of all the world’s flour is fortified with this vitamin?

If you are pregnant or thinking of having a baby, take a daily supplement of 0.4mg (400 microgram). Ideally you will have taken it for several months (3-4 months) pre-conception. You no longer need to take it after you reach 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The exception to this rule is if you have had a pregnancy affected by Neural Tube defects (NTD), or have a family history of NTD’s such as Spina Bifida. In this case, your health practitioner will have prescribed a higher dose, around 5gms daily.

Extra Folic Acid is only needed up until this time as this is when your baby’s nervous system is developing. Taking too much can prove to be harmful, so get it through healthy food choices after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Folates aren't stored in our bodies, so we need to have some daily in our diets. If you are eating a well-balanced, healthy pregnancy diet with green leafy vegetables, bread, cereals, wholemeal pasta and fruit, you will probably be having more than enough folates.

Side Effects:

Some people are more sensitive than others. Although it is generally safe to use. Side effects are rare. However, you may experience nausea, decreased appetite, bloating, gas, decreased ability to concentrate, and insomnia.

If you think you are having side-effects:

If you take your supplement early in the mornings before your breakfast, you may find yourself getting nausea, stomach-ache or other symptoms within 30 minutes to an hour. Many of the women I saw, experienced this and found that if they just took their supplements after breakfast or lunch instead, they no longer suffered with nausea etc.

It’s better to have food already in your stomach to act as a protective buffer. The acid in this nutrient can cause this kind of reaction for some people. Keep taking it just adjust your routine.

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