You may well know that you need to take folic acid in the early stages of pregnancy. But did you know that you should be taking it before you even become pregnant?
If you only make one dietary change as you try to conceive, taking folic acid supplements is the one you should opt for. It won’t necessarily boost your fertility, but it will help reduce the chance of early spontaneous miscarriage.
Folic acid is essential in the early weeks of pregnancy: it helps your baby’s spine, brain and skull develop properly. It is found in a range of fruit, vegetables, poultry and tuna (and liver, although you should avoid this when you are pregnant), but is one of the most deficient nutrients in a Western diet.
Eating a diet rich in vegetables and citrus fruit will significantly increase your folate levels; as this is great starting point for a healthy diet, making this switch is likely to benefit your overall health in lots of ways. But because of the importance of folic acid in the formation of your baby’s neural tube in the very early stages of pregnancy, it is really important to take folic acid supplements – whatever your overall diet – from when you first decide to start trying for a baby, to make sure you have sufficient levels for those crucial early days. It is recommended that you take 400 micrograms a day until you are 12 weeks pregnant.