Folic acid has been recommended to pregnant moms because of its capacity to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Despite its health benefits, though, folic acid supplements should only be taken at 400 micrograms a day, and only during the first trimester and before getting pregnant, as this would be the critical time when neural tube defects start to develop. Aside from this, folate also reduces risks of premature birth and low birth weight, promoting the overall health of the baby.
Folic acid and folate are types of the water-soluble B vitamin. Folate is recommended for pregnant moms because it helps synthesize certain amino acids needed for the production of hemoglobin, which helps transport oxygen in the blood throughout the body. Folate also produces DNA and RNA, which are important for rapid cell division during pregnancy and a child’s infant years.
Two studies in 2009, however, indicated a possible association between folic acid and childhood asthma, but a recent study says otherwise, stating that there’s absolutely no link between the two.
2,500 pregnant women were included in the study by Dutch researchers, wherein the health of their children were examined at birth. The researchers also tested the children for any indications that they may have allergic reactions such as eczema and asthma.
The results showed that only seven percent among these children developed asthma. They were also not necessarily the offsprings of those who took folic acid supplements when pregnant.
Aside from folic acid supplements, folate can naturally be derived from dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, juices, whole-grain products, chicken or beef liver.