Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is an essential element that helps form healthy RBCs and DNA. Along with this, it also helps in the process of cell division and tissue growth. Folate, VItamin B12, and Vitamin C help the body create new proteins that promote healthy growth. Folate deficiency in women may be a serious problem. Pregnancy requires folate for the proper growth of the fetus. Lack of folate in a pregnant woman can cause congenital abnormalities and neural tube defects in the baby. We usually get folate from the food we consume and, if not, from the supplements physicians prescribe. However, there can still be folate deficiency in pregnant women.

Pregnancy is a crucial and sensitive time for women. It is wise to be aware of the possible problems that may happen during pregnancy. Prevention of a health condition begins with education. This blog will discuss why folate is essential during pregnancy and how to maintain the balance in a pregnant woman.

What is Folate?

Folate is the natural form of vitamin B9, which is water soluble and found in most vegetables and fruits. The human body cannot make folate; therefore, we intake it through external sources- food. Folate helps in protein metabolism and breaks down the excess harmful amino acids that otherwise could damage the body. The body requires folate during growth, especially during adolescence and pregnancy.

How does folate help in pregnancy?

Pregnancy is the growth of a new body inside the growing body of a woman. Folate helps form DNA and RNA in the fetus during pregnancy and supplies the right amount of oxygen and nutrients. Folate during pregnancy helps in the formation of the neural tube of the baby.

A neural tube is a structure that encapsulates the spinal cord and brain of the baby. The neural tube starts forming when a woman becomes pregnant and closes by the 15th or 28th day. The process is quick and complete even before someone knows they are pregnant. The neural tube needs to close completely; otherwise, the baby may have defects. Neural tube defects can harm the brain of the baby and cause problems related to the nervous system. 

It is here where the folate comes into play. If the body has a good intake of folate before and during the early days of conception, the neural tube develops healthily. Nowadays, most pregnancies are planned, which helps the physician analyze the mother’s condition. The physician may run a series of Vitamin tests on the woman before pregnancy to check the exact levels. At times, the physician provides folic acid supplements to women planning pregnancy. A planned pregnancy is better as the parents learn how the body is and how the pregnancy will be.

Recommended amounts for folate intake

The recommended dietary allowance of folate for pregnant women is 600 mcg DFE. For lactating women, a stable amount of 500 mcg DFE is sufficient. An adult who is 19 years old must consume 400 mcg of DFE folate daily. 

What causes folate deficiency in pregnant women?

Folate deficiency among pregnant women may happen because of several reasons. Due to the fast-changing world, daily dietary requirements must still be met. In addition, a significant amount of food we eat must be organically grown. Too many chemicals, pesticides, hormones, etc., may disrupt the natural folate intake. We must look for fresh fruits and vegetables, including nuts, to balance the folate intake. Some common reasons for folate deficiency in pregnant women include:

  • Having excessive alcohol may disrupt folate absorption during pregnancy and even when not pregnant.
  • Overcooked vegetables may not have folate in them
  • Prolonged Kidney issues.
  • Anemia
  • Digestive disorders like celiac disease.

What are the symptoms of folate deficiency during pregnancy?

There can be a few symptoms of folate deficiency during pregnancy.

  • Decreased appetite 
  • Lack of energy
  • Diarrhea
  • Pale skin
  • Being grouchy
  • Tender tongue
  • Neurological issues
  • Mouth sores
  • Numbness or tingling in the feet
  • Depression

How can folate deficiency be prevented in 2024?

Prevention is always the key, and education is vital for prevention. Suppose if we are aware of the condition, we can prevent it easily by changing our diet and getting treatments in the early stage. Basic knowledge saves us in a significant way, especially for women. We can prevent folate deficiency during pregnancy by the following:

  •  Consuming peas, beans, and other leguminous vegetables.
  • Fresh and green leafy vegetables.
  • Eggs and dairy products contain a good amount of folate
  • A generous amount of seafood. Pregnant women must know if they are allergic to seafood.
  • Dark green vegetables.
  • Nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Whole grains
  • Fortified foods and supplements prescribed by doctors.
  • Liver

In addition to these, screening tests before pregnancy can help a lot. It will aid physicians in understanding the body’s requirements and suggest the right folic acid food. If the folic acid requirements are unmet, the baby and the mother suffer. Our food contains folic acid or folate, but it needs to be in the right amount. 

Taking care of the health during pregnancy is essential by checking folic acid intake. It is also advisable not to start taking folic acid supplements alone. Your physician knows the right amount for your body and condition. Let us pass on this message to everybody who needs to know about folate deficiency during pregnancy. Stay informed with ZeaMed. 


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