Folic acid is essential for women who want to have a baby because it helps todramatically reduce “neural tube closure abnormalities (AFTN) in the embryo”.
This is the case in one in a thousand pregnancies in France. This rare disease is called spina bifida. In other words, this vitamin B9 contributes the proper development of the spinal cord of the future baby and avoids any handicap(apart from genetic factors that folate cannot fight against).
Such a deficiency can also be responsible for anemia, intrauterine growth retardation or even prematurity.
Primary during the first month of pregnancy
These malformations, when they occur, are formed during the first four weeks of pregnancy, just when the woman has just learned that she is pregnant. There is therefore a real public health need to encourage the consumption of folate before the onset of pregnancy.
Folic acid or vitamin B9 is found in many foods consumed daily.
Read also: The diet of pregnant women
Foods high in folate
- The yeast is the primary source of folate. There is a spread (Marmite) with yeast extract. It is eaten with bread and cheese, for example. It can also be mixed with cucumbers, meat or fish.
- The green vegetables strong in taste: spinach, watercress, chicory, lamb’s lettuce or dandelion.
- Seeds and their derivatives: nuts, chestnuts, chickpeas.
- The melon.
- Mature cheeses : blue cheese, brie, goat cheese… (be careful, some of them are not recommended in the event of pregnancy due to the risk of contamination by listeriosis).
Foods with medium and low folate content
- Other green vegetables : lettuce, endive, cabbage, green beans, peas, asparagus, avocado.
- Other vegetables : carrot, tomato, corn, pepper, cucumber, celery.
- The fruits : citrus fruits, kiwi, red fruits, figs, dates.
- Starchy foods : pasta, rice, bread, potatoes.
Are there any folic acid supplements?
Folic acid deficiency is seen most of the time in women aged 15 to 24, but also among those who are concerned about their diet and who have a body mass index of less than 18.
In general, according to official public health recommendations, women with a desire to have children will benefit from supplementation, as a preventive measure, in the form of of medicine to be taken 4 to 8 weeks before pregnancy and during the first trimester.
A pregnant woman must consume 0.4 mg of folate per day. The intake is set at 0.5 mg per day for those at high risk (previous pregnancy with this type of abnormality or taking epilepsy treatment).
This recommended nutritional intake makes reduce the risk of fetal malformation by 70%. Supplementation should not be continued throughout pregnancy.