What is folic acid and why is it important when TTC and pregnant?
Folic acid is a B vitamin (B9, called folate in its natural form) that supports conception and is essential in your baby’s neural tube development during early pregnancy. The Department of Health recommends 400ug of folic acid to reduce the risk of chromosomal abnormalities in the egg, as well as minimising the chance of developmental defects in your baby’s brain and spine.
As folic acid plays such an important role early on, make sure your conception supplement has the recommended amount of this B vitamin. But here’s the catch: the body can’t always use folic acid effectively, so ingesting folic acid in its natural or metabolised form, folate, helps your body maximise the benefits of folic acid. (Read on to discover more about folate.)
How much folic acid should I take and for how long when TTC?
The recommended daily amount of folic acid in adults is 400ug but when you’re trying to conceive, your fertility specialist may suggest an increased dose.
Having a diet of foods rich in varied forms of folic acid can help increase your folic acid intake but it might not give you enough of this nutrient for healthy baby development. Therefore, taking a folic acid or folate supplement when TTC and pregnant is recommended by the Department of Health to ensure sufficient intake.
Even before you’re trying to conceive, plan ahead and take a pre-conception supplement with folate or folic acid each day for three months, before you actively begin trying and for the first three months of pregnancy.