Are you looking to start a family and want to make sure your body is ready? Well, buckle up because we've got some folic acid timing tips that will blow your mind! Okay, maybe not blow your mind but they'll definitely help prepare your body for pregnancy. Let's dive in!
What is Folic Acid?
First things first, let's talk about what folic acid actually is. Folic acid (or folate) is a B-vitamin that plays an essential role in cell growth and development - especially during early pregnancy when the baby’s brain and spinal cord are forming.
Why Do I Need to Take Folic Acid?
Good question! Taking folic acid before getting pregnant can reduce the risk of birth defects in the baby’s brain and spine by up to 70%. Pretty amazing stuff! But it's time-sensitive. It needs to be taken weeks before conception so it can build up in your system.
How Much Should I Take?
There's no one size fits all answer here as it varies from person-to-person, but most doctors recommend taking between 400-800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day while trying to conceive. Make sure you speak with a healthcare professional if you have any doubts or concerns.
When Should I Start Taking Folic Acid?
Ah yes, this brings us to our next point - when exactly should you begin taking folic acid? The short answer: ASAP! Ideally at least a month or two before trying to get pregnant as research has shown that neural tube defects occur most frequently within the first few weeks after conception – oftentimes before some women know they’re pregnant!
Can't You Just Get Enough From Food?
While there are plenty of foods rich in folate such as beans, lentils, spinach & broccoli (yum) - it would be tough to get enough folic acid from your diet alone while trying to conceive. That's why taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid is highly recommended.
How Long Should I Take It For?
You should keep taking your prenatal vitamin (with folate!) throughout your pregnancy and even continue for a little bit after the baby arrives as well. Folic acid plays an important role in postpartum recovery too!
When Should I Stop Taking It?
We're glad you asked! Generally, it’s safe for pregnant women to continue taking their prenatal vitamins until they give birth or as long as their healthcare provider advises them to do so just in caaaaase you need a daily reminder.
Can I Take Too Much Folic Acid?
While it's pretty rare - it is possible to take too much folic acid (anything over 1000mcg/day) which can mask symptoms of B12 deficiency leading to severe neurological damage if not addressed.
The Bottom Line
Keep in mind that starting early on a good pre-conception routine that includes eating healthy, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep will help put your body in the best shape possible for creating new life. And remember: start those vitamins ASAP!