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BN Doctors’ Lounge: Folic Acid & Pregnancy

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The nine months journey which every woman delights to go through often comes with anxieties and uncertainties. Often times, everything goes right; but a lot can indeed go wrong when it comes to the development of the little one. The good part is a lot can be done in preventing some conditions and ensuring the development of a healthy baby.

I carried out a survey on the level of awareness of the intake of  Folic acid, and its benefits in pregnancy and in the development of unborn babies. To my pleasant surprise, quite a number of people are not aware of this pregnancy superhero.

What is Folic acid?
Folic acid is a B-Vitamin(Vitamin B9). It is also called folate.Folic acid is man-made from folate.Folate is found naturally in some foods. Folic acid is important in the production of red blood cells.

Who should take Folic acid?
Everyone needs folic acid but it is very important for women who are of reproductive age (from 15 years old), women trying to conceive and pregnant women.

When should you start taking folic acid?
Most birth defects occur at the very early stages (first 3-4 weeks) of pregnancy,before a woman even knows she is pregnant. Considering the fact that some pregnancies are not planned, it’s important to start taking folic acid routinely once you are of reproductive age or otherwise, one to three months before you decide to get pregnant or when trying to conceive.

Everyday sources of Folic acid include:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Citrus fruits
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Beans
  • Pastas
  • Flour
  • White rice
  • Cornmeal

What are the benefits of Folic acid?
The neural tube forms the brain and spinal cord. Folic acid helps the neural tube close correctly. Folic acid prevents major defects like :

Spina bifida: which is incomplete development of the spinal cord.
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Anencephaly: which is incomplete development of the brain.

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Other conditions include: cleft lip and palate,miscarriages, low birth weight.

How much Folic acid should you take?
Taking folic rich foods cannot guarantee the same benefits as taking folic acid. 400mcg is the recommended daily dose for women of child bearing age. 400mcg in the first 3 months of pregnancy. 600mcg in the 4th to 9th month of pregnancy. 500mcg is recommended when breastfeeding.

In a nutshell
The daily intake of Folic acid can reduce the chances of neural tube defects in your unborn baby. It is important to make a daily habit of taking folic acid once you are  of reproductive age, single, married, trying to conceive or pregnant.

Did you know?
You can’t get too much folic acid from foods that contain it. Prenatal vitamins sometimes do not contain the recommended dose of Folic acid and it’s advisable to take folic acid on its own. Folic acid is not expensive.

You do not need a prescription to get folic acid.

Photo Creditpregmed.org | www.cdc.gov | Dreamstime | Michael Zhang

Kemi Tokan-Lawal is a Medical doctor , milliner, medical writer, maternal and child health advocate. She graduated with a bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery from Obafemi Awolowo university .An alumnus of Lagos Buisness School.She is passionate about maternal and child health. She runs an NGO - Oystercare foundation which is an initiative to help the reduction of maternal mortality and under five deaths in Nigeria. Find her on Instagram [email protected] .

35 Comments

  1. Emy

    August 17, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Dear Doctor folic acid was a pain in the neck for me o in the ist month of pregnancy. Once i swallow, d whole food i ate comes out immediately. I abadoned d thing for a while until i took injection and it stopped. But im back to another drug that contains folic acid and iron.

    2
  2. vien

    August 17, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    okkk,i started taking it 2months ago….thanks BN

    1
  3. MARIAM

    August 17, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you so much for this post.
    Please can you kindly help us in lame man’s term what dosage exactly for drug cos folic acid i do see comes in 5mg,how many of these are we supposed to take in a day or how do we get the 400mcg….

    • KTL

      August 18, 2015 at 12:03 pm

      Folic acid does come in 5mg most times One of this daily ,you are good to go !

  4. ak

    August 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    @Emy, please try your best to take the folic acid, it can save you so much heartache later on. Wish i could say more but…

  5. Ann

    August 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    I am on pregnacare and still take a tablet of folic acid and calcium once a day….i started taking it like few weeks into pregnancy…..hopefully i would have a perfectly healthy baby, Amen!

    • Jay

      August 18, 2015 at 12:29 am

      Hey dear. D amt of folic acid in pregnacare is 400mcg which is just enof. U dont need xtra if u avnt lost or arent a sickler. Pls talk to ur gynae.

    • Ann

      August 18, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Naaaah, the amount of folic acid in pregnacare is not enough, at a point i argued with my Doctors, but they insisted i need folic acid alongside the pregnacare, i started seeing a gynae specialist and he confirmed that indeed i need to use folic acid alongside….every day i take a tab of pregnacare, a tab of folic acid, a tab of calcium, a tab of vit. C…too much but i religiously adhere to this every day just for my baby….

    • Anon

      August 20, 2015 at 9:46 am

      ‘Sicklers’ also take the recommended daily dose in and out of pregnancy, and cannot take pregnacare cos it contains iron so im sure she isnt one. Taking a double dose makes no difference. I know this cos im ss (more dignifying than the term sickler btw) and i have a child.

      1
    • olive D

      August 18, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      please my dear wat brand of calcium do u take?

    • Ann

      August 18, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      I get from my hospital. Calcium tablets. Ask your doctor!

  6. KTL

    August 17, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Folic acid comes as 5mg many times . You take one a day , you are good to go !

  7. Atyl

    August 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    Dear doctor, I have stopped taking folic acid a long time since I started taking pregnacare but now I switched to Obron-6 in my 7th month. Am in my late 8 month. Hope am fine

    • KTL

      August 18, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      I’d advise that if you can tolerate folic acid at this stage of your pregnancy ,you can start taking it again ,the advantages cannot be overemphasized .

  8. Dr O

    August 17, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Great article. Seriously every lady of reproductive age should be on a multivitamin period! Make sure it includes 400mcg folic and also having dha would be good. In pregnancy this requirement goes up to 800.

  9. Drknite

    August 17, 2015 at 8:11 pm

    This is great! I will be sure to share it with all my future baby mamas.

  10. yewie

    August 17, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Thanks Doctor KTL, extremely enlightening!!!! did not realize how important folic acid is, Thanks , definitely adding it to my diet,

  11. Fabulous B

    August 18, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Beautiful! Let’s preach more of this. Health is wealth. Nutritional supplements got our back, for those of us that don’t joke with them.

  12. Atl_dunni

    August 18, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Nice post Sis,

    Had a lecture last June on how effective the Folic Acid is for women and potential mothers. Learnt that the folic acid is an essential part of growth and development & also the formation of the baby.
    Really glad this message is being passed around.

    Very important that our Nigerian women are well informed about this vitamin and how it will help them in future.
    I also feel they should find out more information about the vitamin.
    It’s not necessary that you keep taking the drugs, it can be found in vegetables, fish and fruits. So if you’re a potential mother and you’re eating or lacking appetite, at least make sure you eat lots of fruits and/or fish.
    They will provide the necessary nutrients you need.

    God bless

  13. Ini

    August 18, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Please, what are the risks associated with pregnancy in women living with SCD?

    • Ann

      August 19, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Hi, it is best to see a doctor about this!

    • kTL

      August 20, 2015 at 9:24 am

      @ini -That’s very extensive .Might not be able to give a detailed response here.Would address this soon .Watch this space .

  14. Agim

    January 13, 2016 at 7:22 am

    pls, may I know other tabs apart from folic acid necessary for a pregnant woman. Thanks

  15. agim

    January 13, 2016 at 7:26 am

    pls, may I know other drugs necessary for pregnant woman.

  16. jb

    January 16, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Pls I really need ur help my period is 3day late later saw it d third day but wen am trying to pee some like some vain is coming out of my pee wat can dis be any one wit help pls

  17. jb

    January 16, 2016 at 8:20 pm

    I mean something like small vain Is coming out

  18. yt

    January 20, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    Hi,been on pregnacare even before l discovered l had conceived, my mother in law advised l take Obron 6 want to know if l should take it along with the pregnacare or stop pregnacare and take only Obron 6.Thank you

  19. jynu

    March 3, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    pls doc, sb being trying to conceive for dpast one year nw ad its nt working. i went for test ad discovered i had homonal imbalance, i av being on medication for some time nw, am nw using palodel ad ibron6, pls is der any advice u can give because am worrid

    • ada

      April 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm

      @jynu, Hi, I was told the same abt having Homonal imbalance. After treating, it bcame high and the doctors gave me drugs inorder that it may bcome low, and that which the doc said made me have irregular menses n I was not ovulating,found that this was the issue, so I went into herbal. I got married 2010 and took in 2013. Buh was told this arud 2011. I started treating buh no effect. I later started taking herbal drugs. Buh in all my sis, there’s nothing God can not do, I put ma faith in him n cried and prayed to him. He has blessed me wit a boy n am preg again 4 another baby. Am telling u so that u will do exactly this than wasting ur moni in the hosp.

  20. Anonymous

    May 19, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    Is it possible to have a healthy baby without the drugs???? Advice pls

  21. Tee

    May 20, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    Please, I 3months preg and I’ve been on obron-6 as prescribed by my doctor, but friends are advising I switch to pregnacare. Please which one is better for my baby’s growth between the two drugs? I am also using folic acid, ferrous and B-co tablets along with the obron-6.

  22. vera

    January 30, 2017 at 4:39 pm

    I am just 3months pregnant and have been on pregnacare plus, but want to switch to Obron 6. Which is better.. Pls

  23. Blessings

    August 31, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Please help, can I combine obron 6 and folic acid together I’m in my 17week.

  24. Seeblesssing

    November 15, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Please can I combine obron 6 , ferrous, and folic acid together am 28weeks. Mother’s please advise.

  25. Oladunni Chris

    October 1, 2019 at 10:17 am

    Can I take folic acid with obron 6

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