Why All Women of Childbearing Age Should Take a Vitamin with Folic Acid
February 5, 2019
If you are an expecting mom, you’ve likely heard about the importance of folic acid. It’s often the first thing your healthcare provider discusses when you start planning for pregnancy. But you may not realize that taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid is a good idea even if you’re not trying to become pregnant.
Unplanned Births Account for Nearly Half of U.S. Pregnancies
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 45% of births in the United States are unintended.1 The majority of these pregnancies are a result of not using contraception or using contraceptives inconsistently or incorrectly.
Unintended pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of health problems for moms and babies.1 If an expecting mother is not in optimal health or delays prenatal care, her baby’s health can be affected. The number of unplanned or accidental pregnancies is a reminder that it’s important for all women of childbearing age to adopt healthy habits.
Nutrients Play Critical Role in Early Pregnancy
Maternal folic acid levels play a role in a baby’s neural tube closure, which occurs approximately 28 days after conception.2 The neural tube is the structure that develops into a baby’s brain and spinal cord.
Maternal folic acid deficiency may lead to malformations or birth defects of the brain and spine, such as spina bifida. Research suggests that up to 36% of neural tube birth defects can be prevented with daily folic acid supplementation.2,3
The Case for Folic Acid Before Pregnancy
The CDC, along with multiple women’s health advocacy organizations, recommends that women in their reproductive years should obtain 400 mcg of folic acid daily.2-4 Unfortunately, it can be difficult for women to obtain adequate intakes of folic acid from diet alone. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from the years 2003 to 2006 suggest that 75% of non-pregnant women aged 15 to 44 do not consume enough folic acid daily to prevent neural tube defects.3
Even starting folic acid supplementation around the time of conception may not be soon enough to raise needed folic acid levels. The highest serum folate levels require at least three weeks of folic acid supplementation.2 Because of the importance of folic acid in neural tube closure, women should start taking supplements at least one month, and preferably two or three months, before conception.2-4
Prescription Prenatal Vitamin with Folic Acid
Prenate® Vitamin Family offers a line of prescription nutritional supplements designed for all stages of pregnancy, from preconception through postpartum. Prenate® vitamins are formulated with the latest recommendations from obstetric and pediatric organizations in mind. Plus, all Prenate® vitamins contain 1700 mcg DFE of folate as a blend of L-methyfolate and folic acid, nutrient forms selected for their tolerability and absorbability. Talk with your doctor about whether a prescription prenatal vitamin from the Prenate® Vitamin Family may be right for you.