Folic Acid Intake Can Benefit Both Mom and Baby

Women, especially those who want to become pregnant, should get enough folic acid every day, and National Folic Acid Awareness Week, Jan. 10-16, is a good time to learn about the benefits of the vitamin, including how it relates to one's oral health.

Folic acid, a B vitamin, can help prevent some major birth defects of a baby's brain and spine, which happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

All women, even those who don't plan to become pregnant, need 400 micrograms of folic acid daily, according to the CDC, adding "This is because our bodies make new cells every day — blood, skin, hair, nails and others. Folic acid is needed to make these new cells."

Additionally, folic acid is part of a nutritious diet. Foods high in folate and fortified with folic acids, including asparagus, broccoli and leafy green vegetables, can supplement a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid, according to the American Dental Association's consumer website, MouthHealthy.org.

Baby's teeth begin to develop between the third and six months of pregnancy, so making smart food choices during pregnancy can "help set up your child to be Mouth Healthy for life," according to the web site.

While a nutritious diet is important, women who are pregnant should avoid constant snacking. Grazing all day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts teeth at a higher risk for cavities.

The ADA encourages women to get dental care while pregnant.

"It is a crucial period of time in a woman's life and maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health," says Dr. Aharon Hagai on MouthHealthy.org

For more information about oral health and pregnancy, visit MouthHealthy.org/pregnancy. For more information about folic acid, visit CDC.gov/FolicAcid.

Getting a checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health. Not only can you take care of cleanings and procedures like cavity fillings before your baby is born, but your dentist can help you with any pregnancy-related dental symptoms you might be experiencing. (http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/pregnancy/concerns)

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