Monday, 27 November 2017

The Importance of Folic Acid in Pregnancy


We hear a lot about folic acid and its vital role during pregnancy. But do you actually know why it’s so important? 

Let's have a look at why you should pay attention to these important nutrients both before and during your pregnancy.

What is folic acid, or folate? What's its role?

You may be most familiar with 'folic acid'.  Folic acid is the synthetic version of folate.  Folate is naturally occuring in foods we consume, and you can also get it is a natural supplement.  Folic acid that is a synthetic version of folate.  Whether you chose folate or folic acid, they are both part of the B complex of vitamins, specifically B9. You can explore the differences between folate and folic acid here.

In pregnancy, folate is essential to the development of the baby's spinal cord and nervous system. It helps to prevent neural tube defects (NTDs). Since the spinal cord and nervous system are amongst the first things to develop in the baby, it's important that women take a daily supplement of folate or folic acid both while trying to conceive and during the first 12 weeks of the pregnancy. It's difficult to get enough folate just from your diet so a supplement is needed, either as folate or folic acid. The human body does not store folate, and because of this, we need to consume it every day to ensure that we have enough in our system.

Deficiency in Folate

A deficiency in folate can increase the likelihood of neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
Women who have an increased risk of carrying a baby with a neural tube defect are usually advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (5mg) of folate or folic acid each day until they are 12 weeks pregnant. You may have an increased risk if:

·        you or your partner have a neural tube defect 
·        you previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
·        you or your partner have a family history of neural tube defects
·        you have diabetes
In addition, you should consult your GP for advice if you're taking anti-epileptic medication, as you may also need to take a higher dose of folate or folic acid. Your GP or midwife may also recommend additional screening tests during your pregnancy.

Daily recommended dosage


Women are advised to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of folate or folic acid while they are trying to conceive and should continue taking this dose for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when the baby's spine is developing. However, it is safe to continue taking folate supplements after 12 weeks.

On rare occasions some people find that supplements give them an upset stomach. If you take more than the recommended amount of folate or folic acid by accident it shouldn't cause any problems. Because it is a water-soluble vitamin your body will just naturally excrete any it doesn't need.

Having a good diet helps


As well as your daily supplement, you can also find high amounts of naturally-occuring folate in broccoli, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas, brown rice and  green leafy vegetables. Other useful sources of folic acid include fortified breakfast cereals, some bread and some fruit, such as oranges and bananas.

Stay healthy, stay happy!
Zakia Mance
Naturopath and Hypnobirthing Practitioner
 

www.zenbirth.co.uk/zakia


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Monday, 16 October 2017

The Power of Smoothies

How often do we hear about the benefits of eating more fruit and veg? And do we do it? Probably not, most of the time. Of course, we mean to.  But life is a juggle and we often don't make time for the things we know are good for us.


This week on the blog, Zakia helps us to make getting healthier both easy and delicious.


Fruits and vegetables are essential to our well-being, especially if you are pregnant or have recently had a baby or are breastfeeding. Mothers really need to replenish their stores of nutrients as growing a whole little human being and nourshing them takes a significant amount from you.  One of the easiest ways to increase your daily consumption of fruit and veg is to make your own smoothies. And this can also be really great for the rest of the family too.  

How to make smoothies?

You don’t need any fancy equipment, all you need is a hand blender or standard blender.  If you have anything fancier, that's great. But it's not essential.  

You will also need a selection of fruit and veg that you can easily blend. These can be fresh or frozen.  Use good quality ingredients, including seasonal and/or organic if possible.  Consuming fruit and veg in a liquidised form means most of the nutrients are absorbed directly into your blood stream.  So the better-quality stuff you use, the more you are maximising the nutrients you are consuming with each smoothy.

I would avoid putting more than 5 different fruits or vegetables in one smoothie because we don’t want the body to have too many different things to process at once. Simply put your selection of fruits and vegetables in the blender, add a bit of water or almond milk and whizz it in the blender.

When to consume them?

To get the greatest benefits from your smoothies, avoid eating solid food an hour before and after having your smoothie. This is to allow the body to absorb all the vitamins and minerals.

You can make batches and freeze smoothies too.  So when you are busy you can easily defrost and have a quick daily dose of vitamins and minerals when you are on the go. 

If you find some greens too bitter, add an extra banana or mango. For mamas that are breastfeeding, this is a wonderful way for baby to get all the goodness directly. And, don’t forget, Vitamin K is present in most leafy green vegetables.



Some Yummy Recipes

Super green: 3 small bananas, 2 handfuls of spinach leaves, 1 apple and water

Raspberry dream: 2 pears, raspberries, 4 or 5 leaves of kale and water

Kiwi delight: 4 very ripe kiwis, 1 banana, 3 stalks of celery and water 


Stay healthy, stay happy!

Zakia Mance, Naturopath and Hypnobirthing Practitioner 
www.zenbirth.co.uk/zakia