Five nutrients every woman needs
2. Folate - healthy babies, healthy heart
Folate is essential during pregnancy to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. Because the spinal cord is formed in the first 12 weeks, folate is critical during the very early stages of pregnancy. It can be weeks before you realise you are pregnant, which is why all women of child-bearing age are advised to take a supplement. New research suggests a good intake of folate may also help to protect against heart disease and stroke, so it's worth making sure your diet contains enough even if you're not planning a baby.
How much do you need?
The RDA is 200 micrograms. Women of childbearing age should take a folate supplement of 400mcg a day in addition to the 200mcg from their diet.
- 1 bowl bran flakes = 100mcg folate
- 1 portion spinach = 91mcg folate
- 150ml orange juice = 27mcg folate
- 1 boiled egg = 20mcg folate
- 1 slice wholemeal bread = 14mcg folate
- 1 portion (80g) steamed broccoli = 51mcg folate
- 1 orange = 47mcg folate
- 1 portion (80g) steamed asparagus = 138 mcg folate
- 2 Weetabix = 64mcg folate
- 50g liver pâté = 50mcg folate
Should you take a supplement?
It's virtually impossible to get 400mcg from your diet, so a supplement is essential.