“Researchers have found the risk of birth defects can be greatly reduced if women significantly increase their folic acid intake.” [Source: Medicalexpress.com]
Standard medical advice at present is that all women who are pregnant, thinking of trying to have a baby, or likely to become pregnant should take a daily supplement containing 0.4 mg (400 micrograms) of folic acid until the twelfth week of pregnancy. Research has shown that this reduces the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida in the baby.
In this latest study, the researchers found that increasing the dose of folic acid to 2.8 mg (2800 micrograms) per day can lower the risk of neural tube defects by up to four times more than the current recommended dose.
But towards ensuring optimum health in the developing fetus, other micronutrients are also important. Micronutrients such as vitamins C and D, the amino acids lysine and proline, and the B group of vitamins, among others, are essential for a healthy baby and delivery, and for preventing complications during pregnancy.
Vitamin C, lysine, and proline help reduce the risk of premature delivery. Along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, vitamins C and D aid the development of the baby’s bones and teeth. Vitamins B1, B2, and B6 are required for the optimal growth of the baby, while a deficiency of vitamin B12 can lead to irreparable damage to its nervous system.