In continuation of the previous topic, which dealt with the issues of good nutrition during pregnancy, today we will talk about the enormous value of such a valuable vitamin as folic acid.
НThe name folic acid comes from the Latin «folio», which means «petal», and what clearly indicates its location. Folic acid, in essence, is the most oxidized and stable form of a water-soluble vitamin - B9.
Where is folic acid contained?
The real storehouse of folic acid is green leafy vegetables. It is found in abundance in artichokes, turnips, brewer's yeast, cereals, legumes, egg yolk, liver, kiwi, strawberries. It should be noted that most water-soluble vitamins denature during food processing. Cooking destroys up to 95% of the initial vitamin content in the product, and leafy green vegetables at room temperature in three days«get poorer» by 70%.
Cigarettes, alcohol, plus some medications greatly increase the body's need for folic acid. Among the medications that interfere with folic acid metabolism are antitumor, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsants. Finally, there are genetic prerequisites of an enzymatic nature and some women need more folic acid during pregnancy and outside of pregnancy than others. To cover the daily need for folic acid, you should consume fruits and vegetables as fresh as possible.
Why is folic acid so important during pregnancy?
Folic acid is used by the body to multiply cells, it takes part in the synthesis of DNA, proteins, vitamins and hemoglobin (participates in erythropoiesis - the formation of red blood cells).
From the very early stages of pregnancy, the product of conception (zygote, then the embryo, and then the fetus) becomes a mega-consumer of folic acid due to the intensive processes of cell proliferation and differentiation. An increase in maternal erythropoiesis contributes to an increase in the need for folic acid (by 30-50%).
Folic acid deficiency in early pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects, especially those associated with neural tube formation. The most common neural tube defects are anencephaly (50% of cases), spina bifida (40%), cerebral hernias (10%). Unlike the former, the latter defects are often compatible with life, but are associated with physical deformities and neurological deficits of varying severity.
Various scientific studies have proven that folic acid can also prevent other birth defects, including heart disease, cleft lip and palate, urinary tract defects, umbilical hernia, and anal atresia. Folic acid plays an important preventive role against preeclampsia and eclampsia, repeated miscarriage, placental abruption, intrauterine growth retardation, low birth weight and fetal death.
To prevent neural tube defects, every woman should take 400 mcg (400 ig = 0.4 mg) of folic acid per day. It is important to start taking one to three months before conception and continue during the first trimester of pregnancy. This dosage is recommended for all women of childbearing age who do not use birth control pills. Doses higher than 0.4 mg of folic acid per day can only be recommended for women who already have a child who has suffered from neural tube defects, or have a family history of such malformations.