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Folic Acid: The Oral and Prenatal Health Supervitamin

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

You've probably heard that folic acid is a prenatal powerhouse, but did you know that it plays an essential role in keeping your mouth healthy during your pregnancy? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), folic acid is important because it can prevent significant defects of the baby's brain and spine. In addition to this, low levels of folic acid can cause anemia, which also affects the tongue and gums.

Folic Acid and Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, your body has an increased need for red blood cell (RBC) production, and folic acid, also known as synthetic folate or vitamin B9, can play an essential role in helping with this.

We associate folic acid with pregnancy because it reduces the possibility of defects of the newborn's spine and brain. Getting enough folic acid can help prevent neural tube defects.

Folic Acid and Oral Health

So does folic acid help in any other way? Yes! Folic acid can be a crucial vitamin for your oral health.

When we lack RBCs (a condition known as anemia), oxygen doesn't reach cells across our bodies. In terms of mouth health, you might see various symptoms, including lack of color of the gums or soreness in the tongue. Folate can play an important role here. Our bodies need B9 to make red blood cells, and by consuming enough folate, we can reduce the symptoms of anemia or prevent it from happening altogether.

Who needs a folic acid supplement?

For all women who are early in their pregnancy (first twelve weeks of gestation), recommendations range from 400 to 600 mcg, so talk with your doctor to determine the right level for you.

And because not all pregnancies are planned, all women of childbearing age should consider taking a supplement with at least 400 mcg folic acid.

How Can You Increase Your Folic Acid Intake?

You can get folate from your diet, but many people might need to also take a folic acid supplement.

It's crucial to consume folate-rich foods as part of a varied diet. So what are some foods that contain vitamin B9? Lentils are full of dietary folate. Vegetables like spinach, broccoli, and asparagus also have high quantities of folate. Additionally, many staples like flour and rice are fortified with folic acid. Just check the nutrition label to be sure.

Are you looking for a folic acid supplement? Since it has so many benefits, it's easy to find in over-the-counter multivitamins. But first, it's best to consult with a doctor. Some groups are at risk of inadvertently taking too much folic acid, while those with a history of neural tube defects may be prescribed a higher dose.

Pregnancy affects every aspect of a woman's life, including her oral health. We know that you have a lot to consider as your pregnancy progresses, but increasing your folate intake can be a simple and effective way to improve your prenatal and oral health.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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