Folic Acid, a water soluble B vitamin has an array of important functions in the body. The NHS recommends for women to supplement with Folic Acid whilst trying to conceive and then until the 12th week of pregnancy. The importance for Folic Acid in pregnancy lies in helping to prevent neural tube defects and to promote the growth of healthy maternal tissue during pregnancy.
Together with B12, Folic Acid is essential to the formation of red blood cells and can aid in protein metabolism. Folic Acid is also essential in the formation of DNA within every cell in the body, which allows each cell to replicate perfectly which is ones of the reasons it is important to supplement with leading up to and during pregnancy.
During both pregnancy and lactation, it is advisable to eat a diet rich in Folate (natural form of Folic Acid) as requirements for the vitamin are much higher during this time. These sources include leafy green vegetables, broccoli, spinach and legumes. However, getting a sufficient amount of Folate which is recommended for pregnancy is difficult from just food alone, which is the reason taking a Folic Acid supplement during this time is of high importance.
As Folic Acid is a water-soluble vitamin (dissolves easily in water), it is lost from vegetables easily during cooking. B vitamins are water soluble which means they do not get stored by the body and are easily excreted, thus need to be replaced constantly.