Women trying for a baby are advised to get the recommended 400mcg of folic acid a day. It is very difficult to get this amount from food alone.
Folic acid is important for the fusion of the neural tube, which takes place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
This makes it important for women to start taking in the supplement as soon as they start trying for a baby, but even after 12 weeks, folic acid is important during the rest of the pregnancy to help prevent anaemia.
Even if you eat a healthy, balanced diet, it’s a good idea to take a more general supplement that is designed for use during pregnancy as well as folic acid.
You do still need to make sure you include plenty of food that is rich in folic acid in your diet – fortified breakfast cereals, wholemeal bread, oranges, eggs, beans and lentils and dark green leafy vegetables are all good sources. The folic acid in green vegetables is easily destroyed in cooking.
To reduce the amount that’s lost, cook your vegetables in minimum water for the shortest possible time.