Why do we need folic acid?
If you’re pregnant, or hoping to become pregnant, you need to make sure you get enough folic acid in your diet.
Folic acid can help prevent certain birth defects, such as spina bifida. Ideally, you should start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid before becoming pregnant. But if you didn’t take a supplement before becoming pregnant, make sure you get enough folic acid during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.
Your GP or midwife can advise you on whether you should take supplements during pregnancy, especially during the early stages. If there is an increased risk of your baby being affected by a neural tube defect, they might recommend a higher dose of folic acid. Reasons for this could include:
If you or your partner have a neural tube defect – or a family history of spina bifida
If you have previously had a baby with a neural tube defect
If you have diabetes
Foods high in folic acid
It’s important to make sure your pregnancy diet includes plenty of foods that are rich in folate.
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts.
Asparagus is loaded with folic acid, making it a great choice for anyone looking to up their intake of this essential nutrient. Just 5 ounces of asparagus provides around 60% of the daily recommended dose, making it a great way to get a boost of folic acid without having to take supplements.
Broccoli – just steam it lightly to retain the vitamins
Did you know that certain fruits are great sources of folate? Oranges and grapefruits, for example, are packed with this essential vitamin – one orange can provide up to 50 micrograms (mcg) of folate. Papayas have even more, with around double the amount found in oranges!
Beans and peas, especially lentils
Avocado – which are also a great source of fatty acids and vitamin K
Seeds and nuts, including pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower and flax seeds
Spinach Smoothie – a great way to enjoy folate-rich spinach!
If your first thought when considering a spinach smoothie is ‘no thanks, it’s just a shade too green for me!’ you might want to give it another chance. It’s surprisingly delicious and so good for you! Spinach is packed with Vitamins (including vitamin C, A, K, B2 and B6) as well as containing iron, magnesium and dietary fiber. Best of all, spinach is a rich source of the folate that is so essential for pregnancy nutrition. So even if you’re not expecting, this smoothie is still a great way to get in some extra greens and improve your overall health!
1 apple, cored and chopped
1 pear, cored and chopped
1 cups of apple juice
4 big handfuls of spinach
Place all ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth. This will make enough for two large glasses. Store one in the fridge for tomorrow. If you prefer a more liquid smoothie, add more apple juice. Alternatively, serve over ice.
If you’re looking for a change, try using a cucumber instead of a pear. Or, if you want an extra burst of flavor, add a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger.