Many studies have shown that women who get 400 micrograms (0.4 milligrams) of this vitamin on a daily basis prior to conception and during early pregnancy reduce the risk that their baby will be born with a serious neural tube defect (a birth defect involving incomplete development of the brain and spinal cord) by up to 70%.
All nutrients are essential in preparing for pregnancy, but one — folic acid — merits special consideration.
Folic acid (folate, folacin or B9) reduces the risk of spina bifida in offspring (a leading cause of childhood paralysis) when consumed by pregnant women. It may also reduce the chance of other birth defects as well as childhood leukemia in offspring.
The most common neural tube birth defects from folic acid deficiency are:
- Spina bifida, an incomplete closure of the spinal cord and spinal column
- Anencephaly, severe underdevelopment of the brain
- Encephalocele, when brain tissue protrudes out to the skin from an abnormal opening in the skull
In a new study from Norway, women who took folic acid supplements in the first two months of pregnancy were less likely to have kids with severe language delays.
When’s the last time you ate your Brussels sprouts? With the fast pace of modern living, it’s easy to slack on your folic acid consumption. Many Americans, deficient in this important B vitamin, suffer from depression, fatigue and insomnia. You don’t want to be one of them! Folic acid is crucial for bones, births and bedtime!