What is folic acid and who must take supplements

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Folic acid is a form of vitamin B9, which has a crucial role in making red blood cells, keeping babies’ brains healthy and preventing hearing problems.

In addition to its essential role in the formation of red cells, folic acid is involved in DNA synthesis, is recommended in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis along with methotrexate, and it seems that it could reduce the risk of autism in the child if the mother takes supplements in the period before conception and in the early stages of pregnancy.

Who should take folic acid?

All pregnant women, but also those planning a pregnancy should consume more foods containing folic acid and take supplements during the first 4 weeks of pregnancy, approximately 600 mcg per day. Research shows that if a woman takes folic acid for a year before becoming pregnant, she cuts her risk of preterm birth in half. Folic acid is essential for the development of the spine of the fetus, one of the first anatomical elements of the child that is formed in the womb.

Are there natural sources of folic acid?

Yes, the most important natural sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables, either eaten raw or only slightly cooked, for example, scalded (the more they are exposed to heat, the more the amount of folic acid in them decreases), but it also exists in other foods. Include at least one of the following ingredients in your daily diet: cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, spinach, parsnips, lentils, peas, oranges, kiwi, papaya, sunflower seeds and boiled egg yolk.

Why is the lack of folic acid in the body dangerous?

Beside anemia and congenital malformations, folic acid deficiency can also lead to other health problems for the child, such as malfunctioning of the brain and memory and reasoning disorders, the increased risk of having low bone density, as well as the risk of developing depression and allergies over time. Lack of folic acid leads to poor oxygenation of the body by red cells (in insufficient number). Symptoms of folic acid deficiency are: fatigue and weakness, sores around the mouth, memory difficulties, mental irritability, loss of appetite and weight loss. Are there side effects of folic acid administration? If you’ve taken more folic acid than you normally need, don’t worry: it’s water-soluble, so any excess will be flushed out with your urine. The only adverse effect reported in case of overdose was mild indigestion.

Read more about what folic acid is and what benefits it brings to the body:

Why does a pregnant woman need folic acid?

Folic acid can reduce some types of cancer in children