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Folic acid – What is it

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Folic Acid is vitamin B that has lots of important functions in our bodies, it helps us to make new proteins and red blood cells. During pregnancy Folic Acid helps to protect your unborn baby against Spina bifida (a condition where the backbone and spinal canal do not close properly before birth) and other defects of the neural tubes along the spine.

How much do I need to take?

It is recommended that you take a daily 400 micrograms of the supplement for the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Your baby’s spine starts to develop very soon after you conceive so, if possible, it’s best to start taking folic acid as soon as you stop using contraception.

Is there any in my food?

The natural form of Folic Acid is called folates, they are found in lots of different foods, including green leafy vegetables, beans, chickpeas, lentils and yeast extract. Some foods, such as bread and cereals, are fortified with it, always refer to the packaging for the nutritional values.

What if it’s too late to take it?

Try not to worry too much. The risk of your baby having a neural tube defect is quite small, even if you haven’t taken folic acid. Do talk to your midwife or GP if you are concerned.

Where can I get the supplements from?

You’ll find them in chemists and you can get it over the counter, health food shops, you can also get them on prescription from your GP.

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