What is folic acid good for?
Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9 or folate) is particularly important during the first two months of pregnancy. It plays a major role in the construction and proper functioning of the nervous system and is important for the development of the cells and the production of red blood corpuscles. Your requirements increase from the time of conception of the baby, as the maternal tissue expands (blood, uterus, etc.) and they will remain high during your entire pregnancy as the foetus grows.
This is why all women of procreating age, and especially those wishing to have a baby, are advised to monitor their folic acid intake so that they will have sufficient reserves once they fall pregnant.
On my plate…
The recommended intake of folic acid amounts to 400 micrograms per day for a pregnant woman. To meet your requirements, you should opt for:
- salads made with lettuce = 53,5 mcg/50 g , cress (107) and spinach shoots (102,5).
- green leafy vegetables. A 100g plate of broccoli = 86 mcg, Brussels sprouts = 85 mcg and cauliflower = 105 mcg.
- cooked chickpeas = 100 mcg/100 g.
- cooked white beans = 81 mcg/100 g.
- fermented, pasteurised cheese. 30 g brie = 45 mcg.
- fruit. 150 ml fresh orange juice = 45 mcg.
- nuts. hazelnuts… 5 nuts = about 28 mcg.
Our practical suggestions
- On a day-to-day basis, it is easy to consume sufficient folic acid by eating some offal, a plate of green vegetables, some green salad and two or three pieces of fruit (especially citrus fruit). You should also consider putting a large plate of legumes and/or cereals on the menu several times a week, along with eggs and cheese.
- Before you even fall pregnant, remember to consume sufficient foods rich in folic acid. You can also mention your desire for a baby to your doctor during a pre-conception check-up. He may recommend a folic acid supplement to take for four weeks before conception, as well as for some weeks afterwards. This is not always possible, as your pregnancy may not be planned or if you do not fall pregnant straight away!
Folates are very sensitive to heat and light. You should thus not only avoid peeling your vegetables before cooking them, but also long cooking times (it is better to steam your vegetables or to cook them in little water). Don't forget to wash them , either !
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