Folic acid is a B group vitamin. It plays an important role in the development of the nervous system in your growing foetus. A diet rich in folic acid at least 1 month before conception and during the first 3 months of pregnancy may reduce the risk of neural tube defects in infants.
What is the role of folic acid?
Folic acid is involved in many functions but especially in the formation of red blood cells and in the normal development of the neural tube - the structure that becomes the brain and spinal cord in the foetus.
It is therefore necessary to increase your intake of folic acid both before and during pregnancy.
- Eat a wide variety of folate-rich foods every day.
- A folic acid supplement (0.5mg daily) is encouraged 1 month before conception and during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
- Women with a close family history of neural tube defects should speak to their doctor about taking a higher dose folic acid supplement.
Folate Rich Foods
Eat a variety of folate-rich foods:
- Excellent sources: Green beans, leek, parsnip, cabbage, beetroot, green peas, spinach, capsicum, cauliflower, chick peas, oranges, orange juice, peanuts, oats, wholegrain bread.
- Good sources: Wheat germ, cos lettuce, banana, avocado, carrot, parsley, tomato, strawberry, canned salmon, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, almonds.
Liver is also rich in folic acid, but it is not recommended for pregnant women because it is also very rich in vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can be harmful to your unborn child.