Why Is Folate Important During Pregnancy? Food sources? How Much You Need?

Why is folate important during pregnancy? Which foods contain folic acid? How much folic acid do we need? Do I have to eat foods containing folic acid even before I am pregnant? You will find all the important information on these topics in this article.

Folic acid is an essential vitamin because our body cannot produce it. So, you must ingest sufficient quantities through food or uses supplementation.

Especially during pregnancy, the vitamin plays a vital role in the development of the unborn baby.

Folates are a form of folic acid that comes from food. Folates are found mainly in the leaves of green vegetables. The human body absorbs only about 50 percent of folates from food. Pure folic acid, on the other hand, can be absorbed almost twice as well.

The most important facts about folic acid

As we said before, Folic acid is one of the vitamins that our body cannot produce itself. So to ensure your taking enough of it, try to introduce the following foods that contain folic acid, for example:

  • Leafy vegetables such as asparagus, arugula, spinach.
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Offal such as calf and poultry liver
  • Whole grain products

Unfortunately, folic acid as folate is often only present in small amounts in our foods. Therefore, one food alone hardly provides a sufficient amount of folic acid. To get to the required 300 micrograms of folic acid daily, you would have to eat, for example, 300 grams of poultry liver – every day. So it would help if you enrich your diet. 

The substance is very sensitive to heat and can decompose quickly in the air. For this reason, it is advisable to avoid long storage and over-cooking these foods. 

Vegetables containing folic acid should be prepared as gently as possible. Ideally, they should be cooked briefly over low heat and with little water.

Folic acid: How much do I need?

The FDA and the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommend a daily amount of 300 micrograms of folate for normal citizens.

About two-thirds of adults consume less than 0.3 milligrams of folic acid daily on average. Women who want to have children, in particular, should think about an adequate intake of the vitamin at an early stage and consider taking a preparation containing folic acid.

According to the FDA, the daily recommendation for women who want to get pregnant is 550 micrograms of dietary folate per day.

Folates in food are sensitive and are absorbed by the body to about. Therefore, supplementation with 400 micrograms of folic acid per day is recommended for pregnant women. It is important to start at least four weeks before the beginning of pregnancy to ensure adequate folic acid intake.

Gynecologists can also give you helpful tips on the subject.

Why is Folic acid is important during pregnancy?

pregnant women in the doctor's office

The vitamin ensures the healthy development of the fetus, especially in the first weeks of pregnancy. As early as on the 18th day of pregnancy, the neural tube is formed, from which the brain and spinal cord are formed. Folic acid is indispensable for its development.

Since the neural tube forms very early in pregnancy (often when women do not yet know they are pregnant), sufficient folic acid should be taken early on, preferably when planning to become pregnant. 

Why is Folic acid is important after birth?

Make sure you have a sufficient supply of the vitamin even after birth. Everything good for you is also good for your child – especially during breastfeeding. 

Breastfeeding provides the baby with important nutrients. After birth, your baby needs the vitamin for various developmental processes in the body. For example, the vitamin plays a vital role in growth processes and cell division. Since blood-forming cells divide very frequently, folic acid is essential for blood formation.

In addition to folic acid, omega-3 is also crucial for the development of your child. Learn everything about omega-3 in pregnancy.