Healthy Foods and Vitamins

Benefits of Folic Acid before Pregnancy

The mother should start taking folic acid before pregnancy. Even when not trying to conceive, [1] folic acid helps reduce the risk of giving birth to a child with birth defects known as neural tube defects. It can also help reduce the risk of other types of birth defects, and reduce Risk of miscarriage.

A study published in JAMA Psychiatry in 2018 indicated that taking folic acid along with vitamin supplements before and during pregnancy helped reduce the risk of the fetus developing autism spectrum disorder.

Benefits of folic acid before pregnancy

However, it is worth noting the need to consult a doctor before using supplements. Including vitamins, herbs, and other nutritional supplements.

General Benefits of Folic Acid

Folate is known as one of the forms of vitamin B9 that the body needs to maintain red and white blood cells, convert carbohydrates into energy within the body, in addition to its importance in manufacturing and repairing DNA and other genetic materials, and cell division.

Folic acid consumption is generally safe for most people, as adults do not suffer from any side effects when taking a dose of less than one milligram per day.

However, it is likely unsafe to take it orally in large doses for a long period of time, although doses of up to 5 milligrams per day have been used safely in some research.

However, it should be noted that doses of folic acid exceeding one milligram per day may cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea, sleep disturbances, skin rashes, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach disorders, behavioral changes, and skin reactions, in addition to seizures.

Gas, and other symptoms. Eating large amounts of folic acid for a long period of time can lead to serious symptoms.

Warnings of using Folic Acid

Caution should be exercised when using folic acid in the form of nutritional supplements in the following cases:

  • Those who will undergo operations to expand narrowed arteries: or what is known as angioplasty (in English: Angioplasty). The use of folic acid, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 intravenously or orally may exacerbate the problem of narrowed arteries, and therefore it is recommended to avoid using folic acid supplements from By people recovering from this procedure.
  • Those with a history of Cancer: Research has shown that taking a dose ranging from 800 micrograms to one milligram daily may lead to an increased risk of cancer . Therefore, people with a history of cancer are advised to avoid consuming high doses of folic acid, but there is still a need To do more research to confirm this.
  • Heart patients: Some research has indicated that taking folic acid along with vitamin B6 can increase the risk of heart attacks in people with a history of heart disease.
  • Those who live in areas where malaria is widespread: Research has shown that taking folic acid with iron can increase the risk of death or the need for hospitalization in areas of the world where malaria is widespread.
  • Patients with anemia resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency: Taking folic acid may mask the anemia resulting from vitamin B12 deficiency. Which delays appropriate treatment. People with seizures: Taking high doses of folic acid supplements may worsen seizures in people with seizure disorders.

Drug Interactions with Folic Acid

  • Capecitabine medications.
  • Fosphenytoin medications used to treat seizures.
  • Methotrexate medications.
  • Phenobarbital medications used to treat seizures.
  • Phenytoin medications.
  • Primidone medications.
  • Pyrimethamine medications used to treat fungal infections.

Recommended doses of Folic Acid before Pregnancy

All women of childbearing age should obtain a dose of up to 400 micrograms of folic acid on a daily basis. This is to help reduce the risk of some birth defects. It should also be noted that daily doses of folic acid higher than 400 micrograms are not necessarily better for reducing the risk of the fetus suffering from neural tube defects. Unless your doctor orders higher doses due to other health conditions. [11]

Food sources of Folic Acid

  • Lentils: One cup, or the equivalent of 198 grams, of cooked lentils contains about 358 micrograms of folate.
  • Eggs: One large egg contains about 22 micrograms of folate.
  • Beetroot: One cup, or the equivalent of 136 grams, of raw beets contains about 148 micrograms of folate.
  • Orange: A large orange contains about 55 micrograms of folate.
  • Wheat germ: 28 grams of wheat germ contains about 78.7 micrograms of folate.
  • Papaya: One cup, or the equivalent of 140 grams, of raw papaya contains about 53 micrograms of folate.
  • Bananas: A medium-sized banana contains about 23.6 micrograms of folate.
  • Asparagus: One cup of cooked asparagus contains about 268 micrograms of folate.
  • Spinach: One cup of cooked spinach contains about 263 micrograms of folate.
  • Green soybeans: 100 grams of green soybeans, or what are known as edamame, contain about 311 micrograms of folate.
  • Broccoli: One cup of cooked broccoli contains about 168 micrograms of folate.
  • Avocado: One avocado contains about 163 micrograms of folate.
  • Mango: One cup of mango contains about 71 micrograms of folate.
  • Lettuce: One cup of lettuce contains about 64 micrograms of folate.
  • Sweet corn: One cup of cooked sweet corn contains about 61 micrograms of folate.

Related: 

Zaheer Ahmad

I am Zaheer Ahmad. Currently I am doing P.hd on Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Sorbonne University. Previously, I have also done masters in Molecular Nutrition and Food Technology.

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