A doctor will usually advise you take a folic acid supplement while you are pregnant but can it also be beneficial while you are trying to conceive?
Firstly, what is folic acid? It is a synthetic form of vitamin B9 and it reduces the risk of neural tube defects in babies by up to 70%. Neural tube defects occur during the first stage of pregnancy, usually when a woman doesn’t know that she’s pregnant. Those first few weeks of conception are a critical stage of foetal development. So if you can take the folic acid supplement before you fall pregnant, it can lower this risk dramatically. It is recommended that you take a folic acid supplement at least one month before conception. It is also suggested that folic acid can help lower the risks of other defects in developing babies such as heart defects, cleft lip and cleft palate, amongst others. It could also reduce the risk of preeclampsia in pregnant women. It also helps your body to make red blood cells which could prevent a certain type of anaemia. In addition, it plays a pivotal role in the production of DNA and the genetic map as well as the functioning and repair thereof. They are a basic building block for cells and they are really important for the placenta’s rapid cell growth. Folic acid is crucial for the developing baby.
Starting at least a month before you want to conceive, it is recommended that you take 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. You can get these supplements at any pharmacy. If you are at a child bearing age, you could take it every day as part of your daily vitamin regiment, seeing that many pregnancies are unplanned. On the other hand, avoid taking too much of this supplement. You should not take more than 1000 micrograms per day unless otherwise advised by your doctor. This is something you need to consider especially if you live a vegan lifestyle. Whatever your lifestyle currently, if you are planning to fall pregnant soon there are changes that you will have to make for the healthy development of your baby.
In general, you need to consult a doctor before you take any supplements while trying to conceive. If you are on any particular fertility treatment such as IVF your fertility doctor will prescribe the recommended supplements you need to take. Always be careful and take the advice of a specialist when it comes to pregnancy.