Recent studies show that a baby’s brain and spinal column may be irreversibly impaired even before a woman realizes that she is pregnant. This can lead to neural tube defects, spina bifida and anercephaly.
Based on randomized trials, at least half the cases of neural tube defects could be prevented if women consumed sufficient amount of folate or the B vitamin folic acid before conception and during early pregnancy.
In addition, would be mothers who have sufficient amounts of folate in their diet can also reduce the risk of miscarriage as well as cleft lip and palate, limb defects and certain type of heart defects in their babies.
The Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, cited a study that demonstrates the link between low dietary folate among women and increased risk in infant health and birth complications.
The study by the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, showed that an intake of only 240 mcg. or less per day may cause a threefold increase in the risk of infant low birth weight and pre-term delivery.
Folic acid also is crucial to support the rapid growth of the placenta and fetus. Taken as part of a B complex vitamin, folic acid can strengthen the productive system in women having trouble in conceiving. Without adequate amounts of folic acid, cell division could be impaired, possibly leading to poor growth in the fetus and placenta.
To boost folate intake, one can tap into rich sources of folate in food and food products that are available domestically. Folate is abundant in dark green, leafy vegetables. Most concentrated sources of folate from food include sources of folate. Other sources are legumes, nuts and fruits like orange, avocado and melon.
You can also find it in whole grain products and fortified folate enriched bread. The good news is that due to the rising consumer awareness of achieving good health, food industry players have continually improved in food fortification that allow their products to be enriched with vitamins and minerals that otherwise will be lacking in most diets.