Nutritionists generally prefer to recommend getting all the nutrients you need from eating whole foods rather than taking supplements or tablets, with one exception. For a healthy pregnancy, a folic acid supplement is recommended both before you become pregnant and for the first 12 weeks.
Folic acid is important for the development of a healthy spine and brain in the early stages of pregnancy. The risk of spina bifida (when the spine fails to close during the first month of pregnancy) can be reduced if all women of child-bearing age and Mums-to-be were taking a daily folic acid supplement so if this pregnancy is a surprise, it is a good idea to start taking folic acid as soon as you find out you are expecting.
So why can’t you just eat a diet rich in naturally occurring folic acid (called Folate)? It seems that to get the maximum benefit of this nutrient from the B vitamin family, a supplement of 400 micrograms (ug) per day is the best option. However, along with the folic acid supplement, you also need to know a little more about folate and choose dietary foods high in this vitamin to boost your levels at this time.
- Commonly eaten foods that naturally contain folate include:
- Green leafy vegetables (think of spinach, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts)
- Peas and beans
- Some fruits, especially oranges
Many foods now have folic acid added to them as they are made so these can be a good option for you too. They include:
- Many brands of breakfast cereal
- Some brands of milk
- Some breads
So become Folate Friendly and check the labels!
If you would like to speak to one of our Nutritionists why not contact our Careline.