Vitamin B9, commonly known as Folic acid, is one of the essential nutrients for women planning to conceive and deliver a healthy baby. Doctors recommend taking the B vitamin two or three months before getting pregnant. But, why should you start taking the B vitamin so early?
- Folic Acid prepares your body for pregnancy
Vitamin B9 supports the formation of red blood cells. The red blood cells supply adequate amounts of oxygen, nutrients, and energy to your ovaries, uterus, and other body tissues that play a role in pregnancy. This function prepares your body to accommodate the changes that come along with conception.
Also, red blood cells eliminate anovulation, a condition that would reduce your chances of getting pregnant, and they support the production of DNA, a material that carries innate genetic information.
- Folic acid protects your future baby from neural tube defects
An adequate intake of vitamin B9 supports the development of your baby’s spine and brain, thereby minimizing the risk of common congenital disabilities like anencephaly, Chiari malformation, and spina bifida.
Anencephaly impairs the formation of the skull and brain. Kids affected with this condition die shortly after birth. On the other hand, spina bifida leads to paralysis, incontinence, malformations, and loss of sensation.
Researchers say that the neural tube defects develop within the first month after conception. In this period, a majority of women are unaware of their pregnancy. As such, taking folic acid before pregnancy would be an ideal way to prevent these congenital anomalies.
- Folic acid lowers the risk of oral-facial clefts
Researchers claim that women who take adequate vitamin B9 before or early in pregnancy have minimal chances of giving birth to kids with a cleft palate or cleft lip. The defects occur within the first days after conception.
Kids with facial clefts may be unable to suck, and they may not communicate normally. Moreover, the affected kids may have dental abnormalities. Adequate folic acid minimizes the risk by supporting the formation of your future kid’s facial and oral tissues.
- It prevents certain heart defects
The American Heart Association claims that taking folic acid before and during pregnancy would reduce the risk of heart outflow tract anomalies. Moreover, the B vitamin lowers the risk of ventricular septal defects and other detrimental heart defects which occur in the first days of pregnancy.
Severe congenital heart diseases can lead to poor weight gain, breathing issues, fainting, and other complications. Therefore, if you wish to shield your future child from such complexities, you would want to start taking vitamin B9 before you conceive.
Where can you get folic acid?
Folic acid is available in iron-rich fruits, legumes, whole grains, seafood, nuts, lean meat, and some fortified foodstuff. While diet contains sufficient amounts of folic acid, health experts propose that you enhance your intake with folic acid supplements.
The Bottom Line
Taking folic acid before pregnancy is an effective way to prepare your body for pregnancy. In addition, the vitamin protects your kid from neural tube defects, oral facial clefts, congenital heart anomalies, and other congenital disabilities that occur during the first weeks of pregnancy.