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Folic Acid: What Role Does It Play In Female Fertility and Childbirth?

By HCRM on August 08, 2014


A mother and her child share an adorable moment togetherAt Heartland Center for Reproductive Medicine, one of the keys to success is knowing what's good for your health and the health of your child to be. We make sure that patients who visit our facilities in Omaha get ample information about popular and effective fertility treatments such as (IVF) as well as matters affecting their overall wellness. You see, diet and lifestyle decisions can have a major impact on success of a fertility treatment or the health of your baby. One crucial vitamin for having a healthy child is folic acid, which we'd like to explore in some detail.

What is folic acid?

Also known as folate and vitamin B9, folic acid is a water-soluable B-vitamin that is crucial for DNA formation, cellular division, the production of red blood cells, and metabolism. For years, folic acid has been added to flour and wheat products such as pasta, breads, and cereals as a dietary supplement.

Folic Acid Can Prevent Birth Defects

Given how crucial folate/folic acid are to cells, it should come as little surprise that it plays an important part in the development of a child. You see, while folic acid may not improve fertility rates per se, its main role is preventing certain birth defects from occurring.

Research has found that folic acid reduces the chances of you baby suffering a neural tube defect, which is a birth defect that occurs early in a pregnancy as the fetus is developing. These birth defects include:

  • Spina bifida
  • Anencephaly
  • Encephalocele

If you're a woman, getting the recommended amount of folic acid in your diet helps reduce the chances of developing these kinds of birth defects by 70%.

Folic Acid Can Also Benefit Male Fertility

We should also mention that folate and folic acid are also helpful for male fertility, similarly preventing potential birth defects. When men ingest a healthy level of folic acid/folate, the chances of sperm abnormalities decrease by up to 30%. If both a man and a woman are eating healthy, their child to be stands to benefit.

How much folic acid should people be taking?

The recommended daily dose of folate/folic acid for your day is 400 mcg. Sometimes couples who expect to become pregnant are advised to ingest up to 1,000 mcg of folic acid each day. This is something you should discuss with our team prior to initiating any sort of vitamin supplement program.

Foods That Are Rich In Folate/Folic Acid

While dietary supplements are a good way to get the extra folate you're missing, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods that are rich in vitamin B9. Consider eating the following for the extra folate:

  • Leafy greens (e.g., spinach, kale)
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Beets
  • Okra
  • Beans
  • Livers
  • Kidneys
  • Mushrooms
  • Bananas
  • Lemons
  • Melons
  • Avocados

A healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is always a key for good overall health as well as reproductive success.

Meet with Our Fertility Specialists In Person

As you can see, folic acid is crucial for having a healthy child, but it's not the only vitamin or mineral out there that can be beneficial. This is why it's so important to stop by our practice. We'll be more than happy to go over all supplements, foods, and healthy behaviors that can improve your ability to conceive and bring a child to term. To initiate this meaningful discussion, we encourage you to contact our team of fertility specialists today.

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Each and every staff member at Heartland Center is tremendous. Dr. Maclin is a woman of grace, and a terrific medical doctor. She is a world-class surgeon, and we are so grateful to know her.

Lene - IVF Patient

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