Is it a Vitamin?
Folate is a water soluble B-group vitamin. A daily dose is needed to maintain the
levels required by the body. It's needed for healthy growth and development!
Why Take Folate?
During the first 3-4 weeks of pregnancy the brain & spinal cord develop from
the neural tube. If the neural tube develops abnormally a neural tube defect (NTD)
occurs. Anencephaly, encephalacoele and Spina Bifida are NTD's. One in 800 (50-60
a year) babies are born with a NTD every year in Australia, with Spina Bifida being
the most common.
Research related data
Research statistics indicated the incidence of Spina Bifida can be reduced by up
to 70% (7 out of 10 cases) by taking folate/folic acid at the recommended dose one month before pregnancy
and during the first three months of pregnancy.
Increase Your Intake
These foods contain 50-80 micrograms of folate per serve:
- Asparagus - 3 spears or 50g
- Avocado - ½ fruit or 120g
- Bovril/Bonox - 1 teaspoon or 5g
- Bran flakes - ¾ cup or 30g
- Brussel sprouts - 3 sprouts or 60g
- Boiled dried chick peas - ½ cup or 100g
- Boiled Soya beans - ½ cup or 100g
- Endive lettuce - ½ cup or 25g
- Spinach - ½ cup or 70g
- Vegemite - 1 teaspoon or 5g
Folate is destroyed when vegetables are cooked at high temperatures for more than
a short period of time, and if they are cooked with bicarbonate of soda. The best
methods of cooking are recommended as being via; steaming, microwaving, or stir
frying. A variety of healthy foods during pregnancy is necessary for growth and
development, however a supplement is essential to achieve the recommended daily
dose of folate.
Where do I find Folate?
- Most plant foods
- Many Multivitamins (Folic Acid)
- As an additive to some breads and cereals (fortified)
- In foods listed as containing folate or folic acid
- In folic acid tablets
Folic acid tablets are not expensive and are available from:
- Health food shops
If you need more information about folate, you should contact your:
- Womens Health Centre
- Family Planning Clinic
- Community Nurse
Do I Need Folate?
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommend all women of child bearing
age who could become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement.
How much Folate do I need?
The recommended daily dose is 0.5 milligrams (500 micrograms). Note: Taking many
multivitamins to reach this dose is not recommended as some vitamins in large quantities
may cause other birth defects.
A higher dose of folic acid is recommended for women who are in a high risk group. It is recommended that you consult
your doctor if you:
- have a family history of neural tube defects,
- have diabetes,
- take anti-epileptic medications.
If you havent taken folic acid tablets and you are already pregnant - consult
Despite increasing your folate intake, some babies will still be born with NTD's.
For more information