Folic acid

Folic acid

When deciding on a pregnancy program, have you ever thought about starting to take folic acid? This is an important step to better prepare for the health of the fetus.

Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin B9 that works to increase the number of cells, as a metabolic enzyme, and also regulates genetics. When taken before pregnancy and early in pregnancy, folic acid plays an important role in forming fetal organs. And support the growth of the fetus in the future.

Well, that’s why it’s so important to prepare for pregnancy from the start. So you can quickly take folic acid to prevent fetal neural tube defects.

“Research shows that giving folic acid can reduce homocysteine ​​levels which have an impact on reducing the risk of developing fetal nerve disorders by up to 87 percent,” explained Medical Staff of the Women Health Service Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo, dr. Ilham Utama Surya, SpOG.

Mothers need to know, neural tube defects can occur in the first month of pregnancy. At this time, often mothers are not aware of their pregnancy.

While the consumption of folic acid, it is recommended to drink at least 1 month before pregnancy (preconception) until the first 3 months of pregnancy.

The benefits of folic acid for the fetus and pregnant women

Folic acid is needed for the program to get pregnant, Mother. The benefits are not only for fetal growth and development, but also prevent health problems that can affect pregnancy.

Folic acid has many benefits for the body, especially for mothers who are undergoing a pregnancy program. The following are the benefits of folic acid for the pregnant program, summarized from various sources:

1. Folic acid can protect nerves during pregnancy

Folic acid can protect the nerve canal, which will form the spine and nerve roots, so they can close completely. The function of this folic acid is to ensure normal brain and nerve root development, Mother.

2. Lowers the risk of congenital heart disease

According to a 2015 review in Scientific Reports, folic acid supplementation can significantly reduce the risk of congenital heart defects.

The American Heart Association (AHA) says that congenital heart defects occur when the heart or blood vessels do not develop normally before birth. It can affect the interior walls of the heart, heart valves, or arteries, and veins of the heart.

3. Lowering the risk of cleft lip

A study published in the British Medical Journal in 2007 found the benefits of folic acid for the fetus in the womb. Women who take folic acid in early pregnancy regularly can prevent cleft lip.

4. Folic acid for pregnant programs can prevent preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is still one of the highest causes of maternal mortality in Indonesia. This condition occurs at more than 20 weeks of gestation because blood pressure increases, which is 140/90 mmHg.

It turns out that preeclampsia can be prevented before getting pregnant, you know, Mother. The trick is the consumption of folic acid. A study found that taking folic acid at a dose of 400 mcg, can reduce the risk of preeclampsia twofold.

5. Lowers the risk of miscarriage

Folic acid consumption has also been linked to a reduced risk of miscarriage in early pregnancy. The study found that folic acid deficiency was associated with a 50 percent increased risk of early miscarriage.

6. Folic acid for pregnant programs can prevent spina bifida

According to the Mayo Clinic , spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly. This condition is also known as a neural tube defect.

Spina bifida abnormalities occur early in fetal growth. Only 25 percent of babies born survive to adulthood with this disorder.

Folic acid deficiency has been associated with the development of spina bifida. Research shows that the risk of neural tube defects can be reduced by up to 70 percent in women who consume enough folic acid.

High-risk fetal neural tube groups include:

  • Previous history of having a baby with a neural tube formation disorder
  • Family history of neural tube formation disorders
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes mellitus

7. Prevents folate deficiency anemia

Folate deficiency anemia is one type of anemia that can be experienced during pregnancy. This condition is caused by the body not getting enough folic acid intake from food.

Folic acid deficiency can cause the body to not produce enough red blood cells. As a result, the organs of the body do not carry out their normal functions. Ultimately, folate deficiency anemia can lead to neural tube defects or spina bifida.

Furthermore, according to Ilham, pregnant women who consume folic acid plus vitamin B12 can overcome megaloblastic anemia. So far, anemia is the second highest contributor to postnatal mortality in Indonesia.

The cause of folic acid is not absorbed properly

Mothers need to know, the absorption of folic acid can also be disrupted in the body under certain circumstances.

Here are 5 things that can interfere with the absorption of folic acid:

  • Alcohol abuse
  • Indigestion
  • liver disease
  • Some conditions of anemia
  • Concomitant use of drugs, such as antiepileptic drugs, metformin, sulfasazine, triamterene, methotrexate and barbiturates.

“Alcohol abuse can result in folate deficiency. This can occur in various ways, namely impaired absorption of folate in the intestine, decreased processing of folate in the liver, increased excretion of folate, especially via urine,” Ilham told HaiBunda, some time ago.

Dosage of folic acid for pregnant program

According to Anne Charlish in the book Increase Fertility for Natural Pregnancy, folic acid cannot be produced by the body, so it must be obtained from food or supplements. Consuming folic acid for pregnancy is highly recommended to help the baby’s spinal and brain development optimally.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends women who want to become pregnant to consume 400 mcg of folic acid every day. Mothers can take folic acid one month before becoming pregnant.

“To ensure that you are getting enough folic acid, take a folic acid supplement of 400 micrograms (mcg) per day before and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy,” says Anne Charlish.

Likewise, Ilham explained, based on data released by the Institute of Medicine, the daily need for folic acid increases during pregnancy (trimester 1-3) and breastfeeding, namely 0.6 mg and 0.5 mg. So it is recommended to take additional folic acid of 0.4 mg / day in the form of supplementation, Mother.

Foods rich in folic acid

In addition to supplementation, you can get folic acid from your daily diet. Citing various sources, here are 7 foods rich in folic acid for pregnancy programs:

1. Eggs are rich in folic acid

One egg contains at least 22 mcg of folic acid or about 6 percent of the daily requirement. Food sources of animal protein also contain protein, choline, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and antioxidants.

2. Avocado

The healthy fat content and high folic acid in avocados are needed during pregnancy. The fat in avocados can help build the skin, brain and tissues of the fetus. Meanwhile, folic acid can prevent neural tube defects.

3. Dried fruits

One serving of dried fruit can provide a large percentage of the intake of vitamins and minerals needed during pregnancy, including folic acid, iron, and potassium. Dried fruit generally contains high calories, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

4. Dark green vegetables

Dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach contain nutrients that are good for you. These vegetables contain fiber, vitamins A, C, K, calcium, iron, folic acid, and potassium.

Green vegetables can be added in one serving of food, yes. Adding these vegetables can prevent constipation in pregnant women. In addition, vegetables are also associated with a reduced risk of low birth weight babies.

5. Broccoli contains folic acid

Broccoli contains essential nutrients for pregnancy, such as calcium and folic acid. In addition, broccoli is also rich in fiber and antioxidants that can ward off disease.

As a green vegetable, broccoli is known to be rich in vitamin C which can help the body absorb iron very well. Especially you can decide to eat lean red meat.

6. Orange

Citrus fruits can be used as snacks during pregnancy, Mother. This orange fruit is rich in vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber. In addition, almost 90 percent of citrus fruits contain water so that it can help meet fluid needs.

7. Nuts

The amount of folic acid in nuts can help meet the needs with other foods. In 28 grams of walnuts contain about 28 mcg of folic acid or about 7 percent of the daily requirement value.

This amount can be different for each type of bean. The same serving of flaxseed contains about 24 mcg of folic acid or 6 percent of the daily requirement.

You need to know, the folic acid content in food can decrease after cooking or storing it for too long. So, avoid storing fruits or vegetables too long before eating.

Mother can also process vegetables with a process that is not too long. Cook vegetables in no time by steaming, sautéing, or microwaving.

Requirements for taking folic acid for pregnancy

Still according to Ilham, in certain circumstances, the dose of folic acid supplementation can be higher than usual. This is aimed at tackling the high-risk group for fetal neural tube abnormalities and folate absorption disorders.

Does folic acid cause side effects?

Taking folic acid so far is safe for pregnant women, and almost no side effects were found in excess folic acid in pregnancy.

The only symptoms reported are hypersensitivity reactions and gastrointestinal symptoms. However, these symptoms can appear in normal pregnancy. This is because excess folic acid in the body will be excreted in the urine.

Abbas Jahangir

I am a researcher and writer with a background in food and nutritional science. I am the founder of, our reputable online platform offering scientifically-backed articles on health, food, nutrition, kitchen tips, recipes, diet, and fitness. With a commitment to providing accurate and reliable information, we strive to empower our readers to make informed decisions about their health and lifestyle choices. Join us on's journey toward a healthier and happier lifestyle.

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