It is usually better to recommend getting all the nutrients you need from eating whole foods rather than taking supplements or tablets, with one exception, folic acid. For a healthy pregnancy, a folic acid supplement is recommended both before you become pregnant and for the first 12 weeks. Folic acid is important for the development of a healthy spine and brain in the early stages of pregnancy. The risk of spina bifida can be reduced if all mums-to-be were taking a daily folic acid supplement. If this pregnancy is a surprise, it is a good idea to start taking folic acid as soon as you know you’re expecting.
 
So why can’t you just eat a diet rich in naturally occurring folic acid (called folate)?
To get the maximum benefit of this nutrient from the B vitamin family, a supplement of 400 micrograms per day is the best option. However, it is also a good idea to know a little more about folate and choose foods high in this vitamin to boost your levels at this time.
 
Commonly eaten foods that naturally contain folate include:
  • Green leafy vegetables (think of spinach, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts)
  • Peas and beans
  • Some fruits, especially oranges
Many foods now have folic acid added to them as they are made so these can be a good option for you too. They include:
  • Certain brands of breakfast cereal
  • Some brands of milk
  • Some breads
So become folate friendly and check the labels!
 

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