Medwatch: Why increasing folic acid levels is important during pregnancy
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - We know pregnant women are supposed to take prenatal vitamins, but have you ever thought about why? Dr. Robert Behrmann, an OBGYN at Comanche County Memorial Hospital, said folic acid, which is in prenatal vitamins, is extremely important during the early stages of pregnancy when the major organs are forming.
“It helps prevent certain birth defects, in particular ones that are called neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, anencephaly when the neurological system is being formed,” Dr. Behrmann said.
He said it’s not only good in the beginning but throughout the entire pregnancy and for women who aren’t pregnant yet.
“In situations where people are actively trying to get pregnant, it would be recommended to start at least a month, preferably up to three months prior to increase the amount of folic acid you’re taking in your diet naturally but also in your prenatal vitamins or multivitamins that are enriched with folic acid,” he said.
Dr. Behrmann said studies show Americans aren’t getting enough folic acid in their daily diet, and that’s why the vitamin is needed. People can change their diet to increase their folic acid levels by eating more greens and citrus fruits.
“If you’re of reproductive age, I strongly recommend that you take some kind of multivitamin with folic acid,” Dr. Behrmann said. “It’s something that you can prevent so many bad things from happening.”
Dr. Behrmann said some studies have shown that taking prenatal vitamins before getting pregnant can help them be less nauseous and sick during the early stages of pregnancy.
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