What is it and what does it do?
Advice of the CRG
We strongly recommend all women who are trying to get pregnant (also naturally) to start taking folic acid immediately. This food supplement is known to greatly reduce the risk of spina bifida or cleft palate in the baby.
- The best daily dose is 0.4mg at least four weeks before pregnancy.
- If you are carrying twins, the dose should be increased to 4mg daily.
- You continue with the pills during pregnancy as well as during breastfeeding.
Folic acid is a vitamin and belongs to the so-called Vitamin B complex. It is mainly found in vegetables (spinach, broccoli, sprouts) and in smaller amounts in bread and dairy products. Most is lost when vegetables are cooked. UHT dairy products however, retain most of their folic acid.
The daily recommended amount of folic acid is 0.2-0.3mg. A balanced diet containing vegetables will provide this.
Various studies have shown that a pregnant woman’s body requires almost double that amount. Additionally, women who are attempting to become pregnant should take an extra supplement of 0.4mg per day to decrease the risk of the child developing spina bifida. Taking folic acid reduces the risk by almost half.
In Europe, between 5 and 20 out of every 10,000 babies are born with some form of neurological defect. Often this results in serious motoric disabilities. In Belgium the incidence is currently around 10 in 10,000 births.
Apart from reducing the risks discussed above, other benefits include a reduction in morning sickness during the first weeks of pregnancy and possibly a reduced risk of premature birth.
Intake of extra folic acid is also believed to reduce the risk of heart and urinary defects in the baby. All things considered, folic acid should not be omitted from your diet if you are planning a pregnancy