Folates, watch out for deficiencies

Folates, watch out for deficiencies

You are tired, often pale ... Your doctor has prescribed a blood test for possible folate deficiency? Normal, folic acid (or vitamin B9) promotes the smooth progress of pregnancy and plays an essential role for the proper development of the nervous system of your future baby.

What is folate?

  • Folate or folic acid is vitamin B9. In France, nearly half of women of childbearing age have vitamin B9 deficiency, most of them unknowingly.

What's the point ?

  • Folic acid plays an important role in the prevention of anemia and in the cell formation.
  • Folic acid is involved in the synthesis of DNA (genetic support specific to each individual). It is used to renew cells, especially during periods of growth, participates in the renewal of blood cells and plays a role in the functioning of the nervous and immune systems. It also plays an important role in the prevention of anemia.

  • Iron and folate are intimately related, since one of the missions of these is to help the body to fix the iron ... a particularly interesting role during the pregnancy where the needs in this mineral are increased.

Why is folic acid important during pregnancy?

  • Pregnant, the needs are increased and increased by about a third. This vitamin plays a vital role in cell formation, growth and development of the future baby.
  • Mom's future, by fixing iron, they promote the production of red blood cells by the bone marrow, ensure a good balance of the blood system and thus protect against anemia. An essential role during pregnancy to compensate for iron loss and supply tissues (uterus, breasts ...) that are gaining volume. They also remove the risk of fatigue before and after delivery (especially if it is accompanied by significant blood loss).
  • For your future baby: folate plays a prominent role in its growth and development, mainly that of the nervous system. They are also the guarantors of the good closing of the neural tube (it is he who is at the origin of the brain, the spinal cord and the spine).

What are the risks for the future baby in case of deficiency?

  • Consuming enough vitamin B9 at the time of conception and early in pregnancy contributes to prevent malformations of the baby's future spinal cordé, called "neural tube closure abnormalities" or AFTN. These malformations are formed during the first four weeks of pregnancy and are responsible for disabilities at birth, often irreversible.
  • A deficiency can also lead to developmental disorders of the future baby, with risks of miscarriage and premature deliveries, intrauterine growth retardation.

What are the needs during pregnancy?

  • For you, but especially for your future baby, it is essential that your reserves are large enough (500 micrograms (μg) per day instead of the usual 400) throughout your pregnancy. Especially as to develop and create your own reserves, your baby draws in yours!

To have your quota, you only have to integrate each day in your menus, with the choice:

  • - liver, salad, spinach or 2 tablespoons of superlevure on a salad for example (100 g = 100 to 150 micrograms).
  • - cabbage, beetroot, artichoke, endive, peppers or orange (100 g = 50 to 100 micrograms).
  • - eggs (2 small eggs), rice, semolina or banana (100 g = 25 to 50 micrograms).

How to fill up folate?

This double protection is only effective if the folate intake is sufficient and regular. As the body does not know how to make them, it is in the food that we have to go and get them. Many foods contain some, and some more than others. A special focus: green leaves of some vegetables (green cabbage, spinach, salads ...), liver, egg yolk, yeasts and superlevures trade.

High grade foodsMedium-grade foods
Yeast in flakes, spinach, watercress, lamb's lettuce, chicory, melon, chickpeas, walnuts, chestnuts ...Green salads, cabbage, chicory, green beans, lentils, carrots, tomatoes, leeks, artichokes, radishes, peas, avocados, asparagus, radish, dates, figs, zucchini, red fruits, bananas, citrus fruits, corn, bread, cheeses, eggs.

Find the list of all foods rich in folic acid

When is supplementation needed?

  • Insufficient reserves, consequence of a bad lifestyle; or exhausted, if your pregnancy is close to the previous one, or if you are expecting twins ... only your doctor can decide whether or not you need a supplement.
  • In some women, supplementation is considered before conception. This is particularly the case if there is a genetic predisposition responsible for certain malformations such as cleft lip or spina bifida (congenital malformation of the spine). Fortunately, these are very rare cases and, again, your doctor knows ... and masters well!

To know

Fruits and vegetables in canned or frozen bring as much folate as fresh produce.

All about pulses. Click here.

Quick, take a look at our Food and Pregnancy file