folic acid foods

Folic acid when you want to have children – About this vitamin and why it is so important during pregnancy

You want a baby and are now finally thinking about getting pregnant? Do you want to reduce the risk of malformations in your unborn child? Then we have just the right tip for you, folic acid!

Several studies have shown that the daily intake of folic acid greatly reduces the risk of birth defects. The risk can be reduced by 50 to 70 percent if you start taking folic acid latest four weeks before the beginning of pregnancy and especially in the first trimester of pregnancy. There are several malformations in children, and one of the most common is the neural tube defect, i.e. “open back”, also known as spina bifida. This neural tube defect can occur as a result of folic acid deficiency. This is why taking folic acid during the first trimester of pregnancy is very important. Whether through dietary supplements or foods, there are several options.

Why folic acid?

It is a water-soluble vitamin, to be more precise vitamin B9, which is involved in many important metabolic processes. This vitamin is actually called folate, only the synthetically produced form of folate is called folic acid. Folate can be activated by vitamin B12 in the body and is involved in cell formation as well as cell protection. During your pregnancy, your cell division rate increases dramatically! Therefore, an additional intake of the vitamin during pregnancy, even earlier, is very beneficial to counteract any damage that may occur to your unborn child.

Risks of a folic acid deficiency

A folic acid deficiency has a very negative effect on cell division, cell formation and growth processes. The blood cell production can be disturbed and this in turn can lead to anemia. During pregnancy cell division and cell formation play a central role, therefore a folic acid deficiency brings with it some effects!

As already mentioned, the risk of neural tube defects is increased. The neural tube is the precursor of the brain and spinal cord. It closes towards the end of the fourth week of pregnancy, and a deficiency in folic acid can lead to a complete disorder of the closure. In other words, malformations of the brain and premature births can occur. Some malformations can even endanger the embryo’s life! A folate deficiency is usually accompanied by a deficiency of zinc, iron and vitamin C.

When should you take folic acid?

A sufficient intake of folic acid is recommended even before pregnancy. This way, a sufficient vitamin level is already guaranteed at the onset of your pregnancy. You will thus build a good foundation for a healthy pregnancy! During your pregnancy, the additional intake should then be carried on. This is very important to counteract any deficiency! If you suffer from the widespread psoriasis or are very light-skinned and spend a lot of time in the sun, the supplement is especially necessary. UV rays lead to a strong reduction of folic acid in your body!

5 tips for more folate

Tips for more folic acidSince the need for folate in pregnant women almost doubles, it is absolutely necessary to take more folate than usual. The only home remedies that will help you increase your folic acid intake are actually the foods you eat. Therefore, the first source of how to get more folate is the right diet.

Food with folic acid

  • any kind of cabbage (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts etc.)
  • green salad
  • fennel, cucumber, tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • yeast
  • wholegrain products
  • soybeans, wheat germ
  • food of animal origin (liver, kidney, milk, eggs)

Folate is sensitive to heat, light and oxygen. It is therefore very important that foods containing folate are handled and stored with care! Otherwise the products will lose the desired nutrients plus our body lacks a storage system for folate. The best way to cover your folate needs is with five servings daily. One serving corresponds to a handful, for example a handful of vegetables as a side dish.

Another way to get more folate is with dietary supplements.

folic acid supplementA pregnant woman should consume 550 µg of folate via food. Since this is hardly possible with a normal diet, the intake of dietary supplements is even recommended. Women should start taking 400 µg of synthetic folic acid per day and in the first trimester of pregnancy at the latest 4 weeks before the beginning of pregnancy.

Source: WHO – World Health Organisation.

Food supplements with folic acid

  • There are pills and capsules from different sellers available for purchase. Just have a look in your pharmacy, or in a drugstore!
  • There are also food supplements that contain natural folic acid. These are then more concentrated preparations.
  • Meanwhile there are even refreshment beverages or milk products those extra with folic acid were enriched

When taking synthetic folic acid, it is important that you do not exceed the maximum dose. It can quickly come to an overdose, especially very high-dose folic acid tablets should not be taken without consulting the doctor! Preparations that are additionally enriched with vitamin B12 are the best choice.


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