Folic Acid In Pregnancy

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Why do we need folic acid?

Folic acid is essential to include in your diet during pregnancy – make sure you get enough!

Folic acid can help to prevent neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida. Ideally you need to start taking 400 micrograms of folic acid whilst you’re trying to conceive – but if you didn’t take a supplement before you became pregnant you should make sure you get enough folic acid during the first 12 weeks of your pregnancy.

Talk to your GP or midwife about taking a supplement during the early stages of your pregnancy. 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 might be:

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 a real winner with the highest folic acid content of any vegetable. Just 5 ounces of asparagus will supply around 60% of your daily recommended dose

Broccoli – just steam it lightly to retain the vitamins

Fruit, especially oranges and grapefruits. One orange will provide around 50 mcg of folate – papaya have around double this amount!

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 ‘thanks, but it’s just a shade too green for me!’ think again. 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 fibre. Best of all spinach is a rich source of the folate that is so essential for pregnancy nutrition.

1 apple, cored and chopped

1 pear, cored and chopped

1 cups of apple juice

4 big handfuls of spinach

Simply put all the ingredients into your blender and whizz together until smooth. This will make enough for two big glasses, so pop one in the fridge for tomorrow. Add more apple juice if you prefer a more liquid smoothie, or serve over ice.

For a change use a good chunk of cucumber instead of the pear or give it an extra burst of flavour by adding a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger.


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