The Nutrient Every Woman Needs Before Pregnancy
Folic acid, or vitamin B9, is an essential nutrient that every woman should take, whether planning to get pregnant or not.
If youre planning to become pregnant, you already know how important a healthy diet, exercise and getting plenty of sleep are, but one of the most important ways to ensure a healthy pregnancy is to get enough folic acid prior to conception.
Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate or Vitamin B9, is one of many super-star nutrients that our bodies need to run on all cylinders. Everyday new cells are rapidly reproducing in every organ of our bodies but without folic acid, none of it would happen.
Folic acid has a very important role in making those cell reproductions possible and happen in an efficient manner, Tama Bloch, RDN, a pediatric research scientist with Abbott says.
During pregnancy, folic acid becomes even more important because of its role in the prevention of neural tube defects .
Why Folic Acid is Important
Neural tube defects are birth defects of the spinal cord such as spina bifida, the brain such as anencephaly, and Chiari malformation, another type that causes brain tissue to descend into the spinal canal.
Neural tube defects affect approximately 300,000 babies worldwide each year but between 50 and 70 percent of neural tube defects can be prevented when women take folic acid in a prenatal vitamin or supplement.
Folic Acid and Folate: Make It a Daily Habit
Folic Acid: How Much Do You Need?
Can Acid Folic Vitamin Boost Female And Male Fertility
Folic acid is an excellent supplement to a regimen of fertility vitamins. There are many benefits you can experience when leveraging this valuable supplement. Folic acid, commonly known as folate, is a member of the group of potent B-vitamins that are renowned for their wondrous health benefits.
In addition to their excellent health benefits, these B-vitamins greatly aid when used as fertility vitamins. Folic acid is no exception. Folate will assist in red blood cell and DNA production as well as facilitating cell division. Anemia can be a problematic condition when attempting to conceive a child or become pregnant and is generally associated with reduced levels of folate in the blood. This is why folate is a perfect fit as one of the fertility vitamins you can take to help with becoming pregnant.
These benefits of folic acid alone should warrant inclusion among your regimen of fertility vitamins, but there are still questions to ask regarding folic acid for fertility. These questions are things such as:
- Can folic acid help you conceive?
- Should Men Also Be taking folic acid with their fertility vitamins?
- Do you really need to take a folic acid supplement, or can you get what you need from dietary options?
Continue reading to learn the answers to the preceding questions and get the information you need to discover why folate is an excellent choice among fertility vitamins.
Do Low Folic Acid Levels Cause Miscarriage
Several studies connect low levels of folic acid with an increased risk of early miscarriage. One such study, carried out by Swedish researchers in 2002, discovered that low folate levels increase the risk of miscarriages due to chromosomal abnormalities.
While this area still needs more research to be conclusive, it seems to warrant the use of folic acid for fertility.
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What Recognised Standards Should I Look For On Fertility Supplements
If you do decide to take fertility vitamins and supplements when trying for a baby, it is important to only take ones with recognised standards, as such supplements can vary significantly in quality. Vitamins that come under the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority or the Traditional Herbal Registration are among the best to take, as they are regulated and contain what they say on the label.
Between 10-20% of women who would like to become pregnant wont get pregnant within the first year of trying.
Continued Supplementation Throughout Pregnancy
Canadian survey data show that it is difficult for most women of childbearing age to consume enough folate from diet alone to meet their pregnancy needs. Over 75% of non-pregnant/non-breastfeeding women aged 19 – 50 have intakes less than the Estimated Average Requirement Footnote 10 for pregnancy, 520 mcg of DFEs . To meet folate needs during pregnancy, women should consume a varied diet that provides dietary folate , and continue taking a multivitamin containing 400 mcg of folic acid throughout their pregnancy.
When Should A Lady Begin Taking Folic Acid
These birth deformities of the mind and spine occur in the initial not many long stretches of pregnancy, regularly before a lady discovers she is pregnant. All ladies ought to start taking folic acid day by day in any event when they are not intending to get pregnant. For folic acid to help, a lady needs to take it consistently, beginning before she becomes pregnant.
Taking Too Much Folic Acid During Pregnancy Is Risky
It’s super easy to consume more than the recommended amount of folic acidand that’s not a good thing. Here’s why it’s important to keep track of your folic acid intake during pregnancy.
By Rosie SchwartzOctober 9, 2019
If youre pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, youve no doubt heard that youshould be taking folic acid. Thats because its long been established that women who take folic acid supplements before getting pregnant and during pregnancy have a significantly lower chance of having a baby with neural tube defects like spina bifida.
However, recent research suggests that when it comes to folic acid, it may be possible to have too much of a good thing.
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Mums Who Might Need An Extra Boost
In some cases your HCP will advise you to take a higher dose of folic acid at 5mg4. This is usually because:
- You have had a previously affected pregnancy
- You or a family member have a spinal cord defect
- You’re taking medication for epilepsy
- You’re obese with a BMI over 30
- You have coeliac disease, diabetes, sickle cell anaemia, or thalassaemia3
How Nutrients Increase Your Chances Of Getting Pregnant
Eating certain foods and avoiding others has been medically proven to improve the ovulatory function of a woman and increase her chances of becoming pregnant. Of course, its not all about diet. There are other factors that can lower your chances of getting pregnant. Being overweight or underweight can lead to menstruation disorders, which can cause a woman to stop ovulating.
Below are some things to be aware of when thinking about diet and nutritional or vitamin supplements as you try for a baby.
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Dont Rely On ‘dr Google’
While its easy to jump online to find instant answers to any questions you have, the Internet is full of myths regarding pregnancy and prenatal care, Fiorentino says. Many opinions broadcast by social media storm can quickly turn from myth to fact.
Before you take what you read online to heart, ask your doctor about it.
The Importance Of Folic Acid In Female And Male Fertility
Leyla Bilali, RN is a registered nurse, fertility nurse, and fertility consultant in the New York City area.
If you’ve been looking at supplements for fertility, you’ve likely come across recommendations for folic acid. One of the B-vitamins, folate is needed for the development of red blood cells and DNA production. Folate also plays an important role in cell division. Low folate blood levels are associated with a form of anemia.
Folic acid is clearly an essential nutrient in the body. But can folic acid help you conceive? Should men also be taking folic acid? Should you take a supplement, or can you get what you need from diet alone?
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Cautions With Other Medicines
There are some medicines that may interfere with how folic acid works.
Folic acid can also affect the way other medicines work.
Do not take your folic acid within 2 hours before or after taking indigestion remedies , as they may stop folic acid being properly absorbed.
Tell your doctor if you’re taking these medicines before you start taking folic acid:
- methotrexate, a medicine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis and some types of cancer
- phenytoin, fosphenytoin, phenobarbital or primidone, medicines used to treat epilepsy
- fluorouracil, capecitabine, raltitrexed or tegafur, medicines used to treat some types of cancer
- antibiotics, medicines used to treat or prevent bacterial infection
- medicines or alternative remedies that contain zinc
- sulfasalazine, a medicine used to treat the inflammatory bowel conditions ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- cholestyramine, a medicine used to reduce cholesterol
How Does Folic Acid Help With Male Fertility
Folic acid for fertility in men has numerous benefits. While it is known that about 1,500 sperm cells are created every second, it takes about 60 days for the cell to develop from germline stem cells into a functional sperm cell. Folic acid plays a critical role in this process by facilitating cell division and synthesis of DNA.
Using folate as one of your daily fertility vitamins as a man will lead to high folate levels in your body. These higher levels of folate will increase the DNA stability of your sperm. The result is that when men use folate for fertility, they will have higher quality sperm with a greater chance of conception.
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Keep To A Healthy Weight
If you’re overweight, you may have problems getting pregnant and fertility treatment is less likely to work.
Before you get pregnant you can use the BMI healthy weight calculator to find out your BMI. But this may not be accurate once you’re pregnant, so consult your midwife or doctor.
Having a healthy diet and doing moderate exercise are advised in pregnancy, and it’s important not to gain too much weight.
Folic Acid Benefits And Uses
The benefits of folic acid for women are very well known. It essentially helps the body produce new cells and keep existing ones healthy. This vitamin is considered so important that in 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration started adding folic acid into cereal and grain products, making it easier to consume folic acid foods. This vitamin is water-soluble, which means that it leaves the body when you urinate.
Since folic acid isn’t stored in the body, it’s important to eat foods containing folic acid or take folic acid supplements regularly. Folate may be able to prevent or mediate a variety of health issues. In particular, folic acid is important in the prevention of anemia and cardiovascular diseases, including stroke. It may also be able to prevent cognitive and neuropsychological diseases such as dementia, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Folic acid can prevent digestive system issues, like diarrhea. It has also been linked to the prevention of a variety of different cancers, including bladder, breast, cervical, colorectal, esophageal, lung, ovarian, pancreatic and stomach cancer.
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Does Folic Acid Help You Get Pregnant
Many mums wonder whether folic acid will help them get pregnant. While folic acid will not help you to conceive, it is widely accepted that folic acid is vital for supporting healthy neural tube development in the very early stages of pregnancy. For this reason, it’s considered an essential supplement for every womans conception and pregnancy routine4.
Recommended Folate Intake During Pregnancy
Folate requirements increase during pregnancy. There is a dramatic acceleration in cell division and red blood cell development as the uterus enlarges, the placenta develops, maternal blood volume expands, and the fetus grows . The mother also transfers folate to the fetus . Evidence supports a RDA of 600 mcg DFEs per day to maintain normal folate status during pregnancy .
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A Guide To Female Fertility Vitamins
Not all couples trying for a baby are will fall pregnant straight away. In fact between 10-20% of women who would like to become pregnant wont get pregnant within the first year of trying. Whilst this can be due to underlying problems, it can often simply be a combination of not knowing the best time to try paired with an unbalanced lifestyle. Nutrition and physical health play a significant role in female fertility and, as such, there are a number of vitamins that can give your chances a significant boost.
The Best Vitamins For Female Fertility
As well as a healthy balanced diet and an active and healthy lifestyle, there are a number of vitamins that have been identified as really aiding female fertility. Whilst they are certainly not essential for conception, if taken at the appropriate dose, they can increase your chances.
Folic acid is an important vitamin, not only for women trying to conceive, but during the first three months of pregnancy. Folic acid can help increase your chances of becoming pregnant and is an important nutrient in helping the babys spine develop the way it should. It is recommended that women trying to conceive take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily and continue taking this supplement for the first three months of the pregnancy.
Studies have shown that folic acid also has fertility benefits for men, increasing the quality and quantity of sperm.
Coenzyme Q10 is a natural antioxidant, which is found in many foods and available as a supplement. Our bodies make CoQ10 and our cells use it to produce the energy the body needs for cell growth and maintenance. Studies have found that CoQ10 supplements in older women trying to conceive can improve their chances of pregnancy success.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid
By regulating the hormones, promoting ovulation and increasing cervical mucus, as well as the flow of blood to the reproductive organs Omega 3 Fatty Acid has been scientifically proven to help fertility.
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Boost Your Dairy And Iron Intake
Besides eating right and taking prenatal vitamins, try to fit in one serving of full-fat dairy a day as part of your plan to get more calcium. Research shows that one serving of whole milk or cheese can lower your chances of ovulatory infertility .
Also aim for two servings a day of iron-rich foods like leafy greens, beans and lean meats since anemic women can have irregular cycles.
What If I Forget To Take It
Missing 1 or 2 doses probably will not matter. But if you keep forgetting to take your folic acid, or you do not want to take it, speak to your doctor.
If you stop taking your folic acid:
- in pregnancy – the risk of your baby having neural tube defects may increase
- for folate deficiency anaemia – your symptoms may get worse or new symptoms may appear
- to reduce the side effects of methotrexate – you’ll be more likely to get side effects from methotrexate
If you forget to take folic acid:
- once a day – take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it’s nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and just take your next dose as normal. If you remember on the day you take your methotrexate, wait a day and take your missed dose the following day.
- once a week – take your missed dose as soon as you remember, unless you take methotrexate that day. If you remember on the day you take your methotrexate, wait a day and take your missed dose the following day. After this, go back to taking your weekly dose on your usual day.
Never take 2 doses to make up for a forgotten one.
If you forget doses often, it may help to set an alarm to remind you.
You could also ask your pharmacist for advice on other ways to help you remember to take your medicine.
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How Often To Have Sexual Intercourse
To give yourselves the best chance of success, try to have sex every two to three days. If you are under psychological stress, it can affect your relationship and is likely to reduce your sex drive.
If this means you do not have sex as often as usual, this may also affect you or your partners chances of getting pregnant.
What To Do Before Trying To Get Pregnant
Planning for PregnancyMake a Plan and Take Action. See Your Doctor. Take 400 Micrograms of Folic Acid Every Day. Stop Drinking Alcohol, Smoking, and Using Certain Drugs. Avoid Toxic Substances and Environmental Contaminants. Reach and Maintain a Healthy Weight. Get Help for Violence. Learn Your Family History.More items
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When Should I Start Taking Folic Acid
Birth defects occur within the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy. So it’s important to have folate in your system during those early stages when your baby’s brain and spinal cord are developing.
If you talked to your doctor when you were trying to conceive, they probably told you to start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid. One study showed that women who took folic acid for at least a year before getting pregnant cut their chances of delivering early by 50% or more.
The CDC recommends that you start taking folic acid every day for at least a month before you become pregnant, and every day while you are pregnant. However, the CDC also recommends that all women of childbearing age take folic acid every day. So you’d be fine to start taking it even earlier.
If you picked out your own prenatal vitamin, take it to your OB once you’re pregnant to make sure it has the recommended amounts of everything you need, including folic acid. All prenatal vitamins are not the same and some may have less or more of the vitamins and minerals you need.