Folic acid (or vitamin B9) is essential for the health of pregnant women and their fetuses. And yes, during pregnancy, a woman's body needs to create new cells to ensure the proper development of the fetus, making folic acid more essential than ever! When should I take folic acid during pregnancy? What is the recommended dosage? Elia tells you all about it!
What is folic acid?
Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble vitamin essential for the body's proper functioning. It is a vitamin that cannot be synthesized by the human body naturally, and must therefore be supplied by the diet or by medication!
Folic acid plays an important role in many bodily functions, including the formation of red and white blood cells, DNA production, tissue growth and repair, and the development and proper functioning of the nervous system.
Why is folic acid essential during pregnancy?
In pregnant women, this vitamin is particularly important, as it contributes to the baby's healthy development and prevents lthe appearance of cerebral anomalies.
Promote cellular development of the fetus
During pregnancyA sufficient intake of vitamin B9 is absolutely essential for the proper development of the neural tube of the fetus, which later develops into the brain and spinal cord. Deficiency during pregnancy can lead to serious congenital malformations, such as spina bifida.
Avoiding the consequences of folic acid deficiency
In pregnant women, a lack of this vitamin can increase the risk of congenital malformations of the nervous system in the fetus, such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
In adults generally, folic acid deficiency can lead to fatigue, weakness, digestive disorders, skin problems, as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
It's therefore essential to ensure that you get enough vitamin B9 from your diet, and to remember to take supplements in case of deficiency in adults, and almost systematically when you want to have a baby!
When should I start taking folic acid?
It's a good idea to start taking them as soon as the baby trials begin, to give lthe body time to build up an adequate supply, but also because the baby's brain starts to grow during the first weeks of pregnancy. And often even before a woman knows she's pregnant!
How long does folic acid supplementation last?
Folic acid intake can s'extend to the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, i.e. to around week 12 of pregnancy.
Why is this so? As explained above, because the fetal neural tube develops very early in pregnancy . It's therefore important to start taking it even before conception, as this vitamin plays an important role in the development of the baby's neural tube.
In all cases, discuss the matter with your doctor, as every woman is different. The intake of this vitamin may be prolonged in cases of vitamin malabsorption or certain pathologies.
What is the recommended dose of folic acid during pregnancy?
Pregnant women are advised to take a dose of 400 micrograms a day (i.e. 0.4 mg), preferably as soon as the desire to become pregnant is felt (and the baby trials begin!), until the end of the first trimester.
For your information, supplementation is also prescribed for people with certain intestinal absorption disorders or who are taking certain medications that interfere with vitamin absorption.
What foods are naturally rich in folic acid?
Food sources of folic acid include leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, organ meats, legumes, nuts and seeds. Foods fortified with vitamin B9, such as cereals, pasta and bread, are also an important source. Spinach salads, squeezed orange juice, nut bread and lentils are all yours!
Folic acid FAQs for pregnancy
Is it compulsory to take folic acid during pregnancy?
Although supplementation is not essential, it is highly recommended for pregnant women! Folic acid sis an essential nutrient to ensure a normal pregnancy and avoid abnormalities. In terms of dosage, we recommend taking between 400 and 800 micrograms of folic acid a day during pregnancy.
Is taking folic acid during pregnancy reimbursed?
In France, folic acid intake during pregnancy is reimbursed by the Assurance Maladie on medical prescription. This applies to vitamin B9 prescribed by a GP, gynecologist or midwife. Ask your doctor for a prescription, and check with your health insurance fund for reimbursement conditions.
What are the risks of folic acid overdose?
In general, folic acid intake is safe, and overdoses are extremely rare. However, too high an intake over a long period can lead to undesirable side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, sleep or concentration problems, and numbness in the limbs. Prolonged overdosage can also mask a vitamin B12 deficiency.