October 3, 2022

Importance of Folic Acid to Pregnant Women

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Do pregnant women need folic acid?

Yes. They need folic acid, once a lady gets to childbearing age it’s advisable for her to start supplementing folic acid. But the use of folic acid is most important for pregnant women, especially in early pregnancy.

Why is that so? Because folic acid reduces the risks of certain serious birth defects like anencephaly (a serious birth defect where a child is born with an undeveloped brain and an incomplete skull) and Spina bifida (a serious defect to the baby’s spine making the spine not to develop properly).

Folic acid supplementation also reduces the risks of congenital heart defects (example being cyanotic heart disease which is a critical congenital heart disease (CCHD))

In simple terms, cyanotic heart disease is any heart defect present at birth (it’s congenital) that reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the body (this reduced oxygen supply result in cyanosis. The baby’s skin and the mucous membranes become bluish due to lack of oxygen).

What’s the relationship between folic acid and ulcers? Let’s start with what’s folic acid?

Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate which is vitamin B9, you can get it naturally from green leafy vegetables and liver amongst others. -Folic acid help the body do a lot of things.

Folic acid/folate helps maintain a normoblastic marrow, it helps in the synthesis of nucleic acids, and in the conversion of carbohydrates into glucose. It helps the body better utilize fats and protein, and it is important during periods of rapid growth and development, such as during pregnancy (you already know why it’s very important during pregnancy), in infancy (you already know why), and in adolescence.

Now that you already know what folic acid is and why it’s very important for pregnant women, let’s move on to another question, “should a pregnant woman with ulcers take folic acid? What is the relationship between ulcer and folic acid”?

It’s important to know that folic acid is gastroprotective meaning it protects the gastric mucosa, this it does through its antioxidative and anti-secretory properties.

An experiment was performed and they wanted to find out the effect of folic acid on ulcers and from their findings, they saw that folic acid helped in the prevention of ulcers by 32% and reduced the inhibition of mucus by 14%. This all can help someone with an ulcer (or without it).

Therefore folic acid doesn’t worsen ulcers rather it can help people with ulcers. These people with ulcers can take it with food.

A woman can get folic acid naturally (i.e folate) from green leafy vegetables like asparagus, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables. She can also get them from eating cooked liver and kidney. Spinach, orange, peas are also amongst other sources of folate.

But when a woman gets pregnant her need for folate shoots up, why? She needs folate for herself and for her baby so the demand for folate is over the roof.

Most women don’t even eat enough of the right food/things due to one reason or the other, some are still even more prone to folate deficiency than others reason why pregnant women generally need to supplement folate (i.e take folic acid), especially in early pregnancy.

Source: @subpharmacist

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