Folate continues to be important in case of planned pregnancy even before conception & throughout your pregnancy. Folate commonly known as folic acid, folacin and Vitamin B9 is a vital nutrient for the development of new cells. A few months before conception, a mother-to-be should start consuming a folate rich diet and start taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement that contains 400 micrograms of folic acid. Adequate folate intake can reduce the risk of spina bifida and other birth defects affecting the spine and brain. Besides decreasing the risk of neural-tube defects, it is also involved in the formation of red and white blood cells and prevents anemia.
The recommended daily intake increases to 600 micrograms throughout pregnancy. (Breastfeeding moms need 500 micrograms, while bottle feeding moms need 400 micrograms.) To assure adequate folate intake, most healthcare providers prescribe taking a prenatal supplement for all women during pregnancy. Your prenatal supplement contains 600 to 800 micrograms of folic acid.
Good sources of folate include leafy dark-green vegetables, legumes, dried beans, citrus fruits and juices, nuts, whole grains, peanuts, asparagus, broccoli, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and strawberries. Eating a well balanced diet can help meet your folate needs
Consume a variety of whole grain products daily, breads, cereals, rice, noodles, pasta, muffins, bagels, cornbread, and rolls. The fiber will help ward off constipation a common pregnancy discomfort.
- Plan your meals to always include a green component. Eg , broccoli, salad, asparagus, spinach, avocados, turnip greens, etc.
- Overcooking destroys folate, so add vegetables to raw salads or serve them raw with a dip
- Adopt healthier cooking options like steaming, baking etc.
- When cooking vegetables in water, save the water to use in soups
- Add variety to your diet with beans
- Have a glass of orange juice for breakfast
- Blend orange juice with yogurt, strawberries, and a banana for a wonderful smoothie
Reduce your risk
Research shows that folic acid can reduce your baby’s risk of serious brain and spinal cord defects, known as neural tube defects. If you have previously given birth to a child with a neural tube defect, discuss your folic acid needs with your physician before getting pregnant. Studies have shown that taking a larger daily dose (up to 4,000 micrograms) at least one month before and during the first trimester of pregnancy may reduce your risk of having another baby with neural tube defects.