Bun in the Oven

foodie adventure though conception and beyond

Folic Acid

When talking to my doctor about pregnancy and discussing the things I had to do to make myself ready to conceive, folic acid was the key supplement that I was advised to take. Folic Acid is a B vitamin that has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of your baby having a spine malformation (such as spina-bifida). It also plays a pivotal role in cell division. On top of this, studies show that women who take folic acid before becoming pregnant are less likely to go into premature labour. Vitamin D and Omega -3 can also help with preventing pre-term labour. Some experts recommend that all women of childbearing age should be taking vitamin supplements that include folic acid, but this can be seen as expensive and unnecessary. As with many vitamins and minerals, if you can simply eat the correct things then there is no need to take vitamin supplements. I try to do both. I have bought a complete vitamin and mineral supplement made by Vitabiotics especially for couples trying to conceive. Among other things this tablet contains folic acid, Inositol (helps support ovarian function), L-arginine (for healthy follicular blood flow) and Vitamin B-12 (which maintains healthy ovarian function and reproductive health.) There are many of these supplements on the market but I chose this one due to good reviews, and the fact they sell a combined pack including a daily tablet for your partner. It is recommend that these are taken for between 4-6 months before you begin trying to make a baby. The same brand can be continued into pregnancy, which was useful for me as we conceived so much faster then we expected! They also do a comprehensive range of vitamins for pregnancy, breastfeeding and new mums combinations to aide recovery. There are plenty of other brands and supermarket own-brands out there, which cover the same areas, but these were highly recommended by midwives and have won various awards including a Boots 2012 product award.

When I started looking into this it was for conception purposes, so I researched into the preparation my husband could do for conception, and it turns out there is little he needed to do. The two things that seemed important were limiting alcohol consumption to the recommended daily allowance (so no more then 3-4 units a day). Also not taking scolding hot baths – as it affects the production and mobility of sperm. It is a good idea for men to be eating healthily (especially if you are, as it helps to motivate you.) and the vitamins and minerals that will boost their sexual health and make the sperm stronger and more mobile. Personally I think the men get off lightly, but my husband eats the same things that I am to an extent, so is also kind of on a diet. He has also automatically cut down his alcohol consumption, as I no longer join him in a drink in the evening.

Folic acid is of course found naturally in many green leafy vegetables such as brussel sprouts, spinach, broccoli and spring greens. It is also found in bananas, asparagus, peas, citrus juices and pulses. You must remember that most of these must be eaten raw or lightly cooked to get the folic acid out and into your system rather then cooked away. So try things like using raw broccoli and lightly steamed asparagus as crudités with hummus, or baby leaf spinach as salad leaves, a banana or orange as a snack or even buying bread or cereals with added folic acid (see packets for details). Also brown rice, pumpkin and baked potatoes are a good source.

It is recommended that on a daily basis that you should be taking 400mcg. If you have a family history of neural tube defects or chronic health problems then this should be increase to 5000mcg. It is an important issue, so much so, some countries add folic acid to a staple food source, such as Chile where it is in bread and spina bifida has almost totally been eradicated. It is worth talking to you GP if you are aware of any issues that have occurred within your family.