Most women know that folic acid is important for the prevention of neural tube defects like Spina Bifida, but the Associated Press reports that folic acid offers more protection than researchers originally though.
According to two new research studies, folic acid may also prevent premature birth as well as heart defects. Researchers in Texas followed 35,000 pregnant women and found that the women who took folic acid supplements for a year or longer before getting pregnant were 50% less likely to have a premature baby.
Folic acid (vitamin B9) and folate (the naturally occurring form of vitamin B9) serves an important function in cell division and growth. A diet rich in leafy green vegetables, citrus and dried beans can provide pregnant women with some of the folate they need for a healthy pregnancy.
Since folate is a water soluble vitamin, the body isn’t able to store it for future needs. This is why pregnancy experts as well as the CDC recommend that pregnant women and women of child-bearing age take a daily folic acid supplement or multi-vitamin containing 400 mcgs of folic acid.
With the new research, some pregnancy specialists think it might be time for the government to increase the amount of folic acid added to cereals and other foods to help protect babies and moms-to-be. There are some concerns about doing this though. While extra folic acid may be beneficial for women, extra high levels of folic acid has potential cancer risks for older adults. Get more details here.