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Why do you need folic acid during pregnancy

  • December 8, 2020
  • MKB Team

Read this article to understand the importance of folic acid during pregnancy and how to get enough of it. 


Why should you have folic acid when you are pregnant?

Folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9 is an absolute must during pregnancy simply because it is instrumental for the development of the foetus. It also restricts birth defects such as spina bifida and is responsible for the formation of new cells. However, an overdose of folic acid in food during pregnancy is undesirable and unadvisable. The daily recommended intake for pregnant women is approximately 600 micrograms. But do consult your doctor regarding folic acid for pregnancy. 


Folic Acid rich foods that you should include in your diet

Include the following folic acid rich foods in your pregnancy diet and have a smoother pregnancy. Here are some great examples of folic acid in food: 

  • Dark leafy greens

Include spinach, soy and romane lettuce to your diet plan. Only one plate of these leafy greens suffices to provide your daily requirement of folic acid in one go. Awesome! 

  • Beans, peas and lentils

 Beans and peas have been blessed with a high folic acid ratio. You can try peas and beans like pinto beans, lima peas, black eyed peas, green peas and kidney beans. Just a small bowl of lentils is enough to satisfy your daily folic acid needs.

  • Avocados

Each cup of avocados contains a staggering 90 micrograms of vitamin B9, and this is equivalent to almost 22% of your daily folic acid need. Avocados are also a great source of vitamin A, dietary fibre and vitamin K.

  • Seeds and nuts

Dried nuts are recommended and so are all types of seeds as they are rich in folic acid content. Munch on flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and peanuts. Consume them any way you like- raw, dried or roasted.

  • Beets

Nearly 34% of your daily requirement for folic acid is satisfied by beets. They are rich in antioxidants and detoxification elements. Just beet it!

  • Citrus Fruits

Have citrus fruits like oranges papaya, banana, grapes, and strawberries that are packed with folic acid.

  • Bhindi or Okra

Okra or more popularly known as bhindi is not only good for digestion but also eliminates toxic accumulation in the body. Only consuming one cup of bhindi brings about as much as 37 micrograms of folic acid.

  • Corn

Did you know that only one cup of boiled corn is enough to satisfy 20% of your daily requirement of folic acid? This is because corn is rich in folate and needs to be on your pregnancy diet plan. 

  • Carrots

Not only can you have carrots in a healthy salad but you can also snack on them in their raw form. You can bake them or opt for a nice glass of carrot juice. Just one cup of carrot juice satisfies 5 % of your daily folic acid needs.

  • Cauliflower

Loaded with both Vitamin C and Vitamin B9, this vegetable is the perfect folic acid rich food during pregnancy.  

Folic Acid vs. Folate

Both folate and folic acid are different forms of vitamin B9. But even though there’s a distinct difference between the two, their names are often used interchangeably. Folate is the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9. Its name is derived from the Latin word “folium,” which means leaf. In fact, leafy vegetables are among the best dietary sources of folate. Folate is basically a generic name for a group of related compounds that have the same nutritional properties.

Folic acid, on the other hand, is a synthetic form of vitamin B9. Your body does not convert it into active vitamin B9 very well, so non metabolized folic acid may build up in your bloodstream.

Benefits of Folic Acid

The benefits of folic acid are plentiful for both mother and child.  Extensive research has been instrumental to indicate that if folic acid intake begins in the months before pregnancy, it could produce important health benefits for both expecting mothers and their babies. Let’s zoom in on the benefits of folic acid for pregnant women. 

  • Miscarriage: A deficiency of folic acid may result in a miscarriage. Folic acid keeps both mother and child healthy by preventing a miscarriage.
  • Neural tube defects which include spina bifida and anencephaly may rise by up to 70 percent in the case of folic acid deficiency. 
  • Folic acid reduces the risk of congenital heart defects.
  • Folic acid keeps gestational diabetes at bay.
  • Folic acid reduces the risk of autism in your baby.


Did you enjoy reading this article? Do you have something related to Folic acid that you wish to share with us? Write to us with your suggestions, questions, and tips related to this article! We’d love to hear from you.  


Mums Ask & We Answer


Q.1 What can happen if I do not get enough folic acid during pregnancy? (Malobika Banerjee, Kolkata)

If you do not get enough folic acid both before and during pregnancy, your baby might be at a higher risk for neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are serious birth defects that affect the spine, spinal cord, or brain and may cause death in some circumstances.

Q.2 When should a pregnant woman take folic acid? (Sudha Iyer, Bangalore)

Well, you should take a 400 micrograms folic acid tablet every day before you're pregnant and until the time you are 12 weeks pregnant. But your doctor’s consultation is a must and his/her decision is recommended. Remember that folic acid can help prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida.

Q.3 Is 4 weeks pregnant too late for folic acid? (Neha Vora, Delhi)

The best way to protect your baby is to start taking folic acid at least 3 months before you get pregnant for best results. This will decrease the chance of your baby developing spina bifida by about 50%. If you wait until you get pregnant or miss your period to start folic acid supplements, you are too late.

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