One of the first things your doctor will tell you if you are trying to conceive or if you have recently discovered that you're pregnant is you should take more folic acid. Folic acid can be found in a number of foods, including cereals and dark leafy greens. It's very difficult to get adequate folic acid from food, so it's important to take a good multivitamin containing folic acid to prevent serious birth defects such as spina bifida.
Before conception, it can be extremely easy to take folic acid for the health of your baby and a better pregnancy. So what is folic acid? Often called folate, it is a B vitamin that can be found in green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach and orange juice. If you receive 400 micrograms of folic acid, or 4 milligrams of folic acid before conception, it can significantly reduce the risk of some types of neural tube defects.
One of the most common birth defect is spina bifida, which is an incomplete closure of the spinal cord and column. Taking folic acid can help reduce this problem significantly. In addition, anencephaly, which is a serious underdevelopment of the brain, and encephalocele, which is when brain tissue protrudes through an opening in the skin abnormally, can both be reduced through the intake of folic acid. And all these anomalies occur in the first month of pregnancy, which is usually well before a woman knows she is pregnant. Therefore, intake of folic acid before the woman is pregnant is of utmost importance.
Only about 50% of pregnancies are planned, so intake of folic acid is important for anyone who wants or is considering conception in the future. Although the reasons why folic acid is so great at reducing the risk of these birth defects has not been explained, we know that it plays an important role in cell growth and development.
Learn more about folic acid and pregnancy plus all the other important vitamins necessary when trying to conceive by reading Personal Path to Pregnancy, the International best-selling fertlity guide.