Women should get higher doses of folic acid before even get pregnant, in order, to protect the baby’s health. They need at least 600 mcg of folic acid a day. A dosage which is difficult to get from food alone.
The daily recommended dose for folate
Folic acid and folate are other forms of the vitamin B9. Folic acid is the synthetic form found in supplements and fortified foods. Folate is naturally present in foods.
The recommended daily dose for folate is 400 mcg for women.
But, the synthetic form of vitamin B9 found in supplements (folic acid) is about 70% more bioavailable than the natural form (folate) in food. Hence, if you take supplements or consume fortified foods regularly, you can easily boost your daily intake.
Women should get more folic acid before get pregnant
Getting adequate amounts of folic acid during pregnancy is crucial. Folic acid can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. Folic acid helps form the neural tube.
Therefore, it is highly recommended for women of reproductive age to take much higher dosages of folic acid. Before even get pregnant!
Women during pregnancy need higher dosages of folic acid because major birth defects of the baby’s brain or spine occur in the first month of pregnancy. About 3-4 weeks after conception. At that time, most women don’t even know they are pregnant.
Moreover, it’s estimated that about half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned.
The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board recommends a daily folate dose for pregnant women of 600 mcg.
Additionally, the CDC recommends that pregnant women should take an extra dose of 400 mcg of folic acid from supplements every day.
Higher doses of folic acid from supplements aren’t necessary. Unless your physician recommends otherwise. Health issues, medication, or obesity may change the optimum dose of folic acid for a woman.
For instance, overweight women tend to have lower serum concentrations of folate. So, they should be extra careful about their daily folate intake.
Do I need to take supplements before & during pregnancy?
There are many foods high in folate. A healthy, well-balanced diet can provide the standard recommended daily dose of folate.
But, getting 600 mcg or more, from diet alone, might be tricky for most women. Taking folic acid supplements is the easiest way to boost your daily intake of folic acid. You could consume fortified foods, such as cereal and pasta as well.
Certainly, you should consult your physician before taking any supplementation, or drastically changing your diet.
Common foods rich in folate are whole wheat bread, peanuts, spinach, kale, cabbage, lettuce, lentils, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, and many more.