Folic Acid: The Most Essential Vitamin to help Combat NTDs


Whether you are an expectant woman or planning to be one, intake of right, vital vitamins can help ensure you birth of a healthy baby. What's more, one of the necessary vitamins for you and your baby is folic acid. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up to 70% of all neural tube defects (NTDs); birth defects of the brain and spine, can be prevented if women in their childbearing age to start taking folic acid daily.


This essential vitamin is a member of the B-vitamin family. It takes place naturally in foods as folates. It is also available in a synthetic form in vitamin pills. Foods that contain folate include green leafy vegetable, orange juice, and beans. Fortified breakfast, vitamins, and enriched grain products consist the synthetic form of folic acid. As a matter of fact, the synthetic form is absorbed more easily by the body than the natural form of it.


Why is Folic Acid Vital?


While researchers haven’t reached to a conclusion why folic acid helps fight birth defects, it has been shown to help decrease the risk of the most common NTDs; spina bifida, and anencephaly. The leading cause of childhood paralysis in babies is spina bifida and anencephaly is a fatal condition in which an infant takes birth with a severely underdeveloped brain and skull.


Not only does it help curb these NTDs, but it can also help prevent your baby from developing a cleft lip, heart defect, or cleft palate. In addition to this, pregnant women need folic acid to help maintain a rapid growth of the fetus and placenta.


A study found that women with folic acid deficiencies were two to three times more likely to give birth to a premature baby or a baby with low birth weight than those who got ample amount of the vitamin.


Increase Intake:


The CDC, the March of Dimes, and the Institute of Medicine recommend all women to consume at least 400 micrograms of the synthetic form of folic acid daily. Pregnant women must consume 600 micrograms of it, either from a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin. Consuming a fortified breakfast cereal that contains 400 micrograms of folic acid is another easy way.


Foods, rich in folate include:


  • Leafy green vegetables

  • Fruits and fruit juices

  • Chickpeas

  • Peas

  • Bean

  • Asparagus

  • Wheat germ

  • Peanuts

  • Sunflower seeds

  • Lima beans


Fortified Foods


Foods that are fortified with folic acids can be easily absorbed by the body than natural folates. Foods that are labeled “enriched” (having 140 micrograms of folic acid per 100 grams of grain) include:


  • Pasta

  • Rice

  • Bread

  • Breakfast Cereal


If you already have given birth to a baby with an NTD, consult your doctor about how much amount of folic acid you need to take prior to your next pregnancy. Studies reveal that consuming a larger dose (4 milligrams) at least one month before pregnancy and during the first trimester help reduce the risk of going through another affected pregnancy by about 70 percent.