Medical experts from the US Preventive Services Task Force, PSTF, has released a report which said that when it comes to women who are thinking about getting pregnant at some stage in their lives, folic acid supplement should come in handy.
Among all other food supplements – antioxidants, multivitamins, probiotics, or good old Vitamin C, which are considered useless and could be dangerous to health, folic acid is considered a rare supplement with strong scientific backing. The US PSTF is an independent, volunteer-driven panel of health experts and their advice to women capable of getting pregnant is to take folic acid daily, even if they’re not planning to become pregnant in the near future.
The group’s report emphasized the fact that most women do not get the recommended daily amount of folate – a type of vitamin B – from their diets alone, which makes the folic acid supplement an important consideration. It has become a health concern since a healthy supply of folate can prevent some of the most common birth defects from occurring – neural tube defects, which can seriously alter the development of the brain, skull, and spine, and lead to disability or death.
The report said:
“Neural tube defects are among the most common major congenital anomalies in the United States and may lead to a range of disabilities or death.
“If you are planning a pregnancy, the best way to guarantee you get enough folic acid is to take a daily folic acid supplement at least one month before and three months after conception. You don’t need to take folic acid supplements after that. This is in addition to eating foods with added folic acid and naturally rich in folate.”
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You may be wondering about the different between folate and folic acid? Folate is simply the B vitamin found naturally in food, while it is referred as folic acid (oxidized synthetic compound) when it is added to food, such as bread, cereals, as a dietary supplement.
They advice individuals to look for supplements that contain at least 400 micrograms of folic acid; which will generally be supplements that contains only folic acid or special pregnancy supplements.