Edward-Elmhurst health shared in their Healthy Driven Blog that you may have heard that folic acid is important during pregnancy. You may have also heard that you need it when trying to conceive. But did you know that you should take this B-vitamin even if you’re not planning to become pregnant?
Since the 1950s, we have known that low levels of folic acid during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects of a baby’s brain and spine, called neural tube defects (NTDs). The most common types of NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. Spina bifida may cause minor physical problems to lifelong disabilities, including severe paralysis and mental retardation, while the latter may cause stillbirth.
Folic acid is essential for many functions in the body — especially during the first few weeks of life when important growth and development happens for babies. Usually, a baby’s brain and spine are already formed before a woman even knows she’s pregnant.
This is why it’s important to have enough folic acid in your body before you become pregnant. The National Council on Folic Acid reports that taking folic acid before pregnancy reduces the risk of NTDs by up to 70 percent. Considering also that half of all U.S. pregnancies are unplanned, if you’re capable of getting pregnant, you should be taking this essential vitamin each day.