Folic Acid - The Star Nutrient for Preparing to Become Pregnant
One of the most important nutrients needed before and throughout pregnancy is folic acid. Also known as folate and folacin, research has linked this B vitamin with helping to protect the developing fetus against neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida.
Folic acid is most effective during the first month of pregnancy, before most women know they are pregnant. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that neural tube defects can be reduced by 50% - 70% if mothers-to-be consume adequate folic acid as part of an overall healthy diet.
Good food sources for folic acid include:
- Oranges and orange juice
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and mustard greens
- Most dried beans and lentils
- Whole grain and enriched grain products, including breads, rice and pasta
Although the foods listed above are great additions to a varied diet, the National Academy of Science recommends that all women capable of becoming pregnant consume 100% of the DV (daily value) of folic acid from either supplements or foods fortified with folic acid such as Quaker Instant Oatmeal in addition to other foods which may naturally contain folic acid.