Maternal health has vastly improved over the years, and even though we are not where we need to be, we are getting there. One of the main contributors to this is encouraging the use of supplements before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic acid and iron supplements are one of the supplements that moms are advised to take. Here is a little cheat sheet on these important supplements.
Folic acid is a B-9 Vitamin that naturally occurs as folate. It’s naturally found in beans, seafood, eggs, liver, and dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kales among others. Even though we mainly incorporate a variety of these in our meals, it is important to take supplements before, during, and after birth as the body requires a higher intake of folic acid to enhance the well-being of the mum and baby.
Women of childbearing age need to take folic acid, especially if they plan to conceive, this is because it helps protect your child from neural tube defects such as spinal Bifida and anencephaly. Spinal Bifida is the incomplete development of the spinal cord. Anencephaly is the incomplete development of the brain. Many babies born with anencephaly do not survive long.
Taking folic supplements before conceiving reduces the chance of your baby getting spinal Bifida. A recent study revealed that taking folic supplements up to a year before conception reduced the probability of premature birth by 50%.
With that said, if you have already conceived it is paramount to visit your nearby clinic and get folic supplements as advised by your doctor. This is important because most birth defects occur during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Iron is a mineral found in proteins and enzymes. It is needed for healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from our lungs to different parts of our body, for pregnant women, this includes your baby. Most women can get enough iron from eating a healthy diet, it is therefore not necessary to take iron supplements. Even then, it is advisable to get your doctor’s opinion to ensure that the amount of iron you get from your diet is enough for you and your baby.
Some of the foods that contain iron include, but are not limited to; red meat, eggs, green leafy vegetables, beans, and whole meal bread. It’s also important to note that there are foods that aid in the absorption of iron. Fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C, such as kiwi fruit, oranges, and parsley, aid in the absorption of iron.
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