Folate is an essential pregnancy vitamin. It plays a very important role in the first trimester of pregnancy, helping your baby’s nervous system to develop. Folate is the naturally occurring form of this B-group vitamin. It is found in foods like:
- Green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and asparagus
- Some fruits, including strawberries, oranges and bananas
- Legumes like chickpeas, beans and lentils.
Folic acid is the synthetic form of the vitamin. In Australia, folic acid is now added to some cereals, breads and fruit juices; it can also be taken in supplement form. All wheat flour used in bread making must contain folic acid in Australia except organic bread. Therefore, bread is a good source of folic acid. Check the nutritional information on the products you are eating to see if they have folic acid or folate listed.
Generally, most women don’t get enough folate before and during pregnancy from diet alone. Experts recommend that women of childbearing age aim for a folate rich diet and if planning a pregnancy, they take a supplement containing 400 mcg folic acid per day. This requirement increases during pregnancy to 600 mcg per day until the end of the first trimester.
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