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Folic Acid, a vitamin B variant, can be extremely beneficial for women, especially those who are pregnant or are planning to conceive. This water-soluble form of vitamin B9 could safeguard the fetus from being born with grave disorders like ‘spina bifida’ or anencephaly. If young and pregnant women took this vitamin on a daily basis, nearly 70% of birth defects associated with the spine and brain would never have happened.
This vitamin B type naturally occurs in legumes, nuts, and specific vegetables. However, most of those who are on their way of becoming pregnant or already are do not consume sufficient amounts of these food items routinely. Hence, their bodies do not get the daily required dosage of Folic acid.
The best option of supplying the daily quota to the body is by taking pills and supplements.
Folic Acid: What is it?
Folate and Folic Acid are water-soluble vitamin B9 variants. They can be found in the common dietary items we tend to consume from day to day like grains, beef liver, beef kidney, eggs, meats, dairy products, seafood, nuts, fruits, green vegetables, leafy vegetables and so on. Vitamins, fortified grain products and breakfast cereals include folic acid in artificial form. Our bodies absorb and ingest the synthetic type more effectively than the natural variant.
Benefits of Folic Acid
Though researchers are still in the dark as to why and how Folic acid contributes towards averting birth defects, there is enough circumstantial evidence to prove the above assertion. As a matter of fact, the vitamin can check the incidence of such defects in the early stages of pregnancy, much before they realize that they’re carrying. These defects are usually related to the unborn baby’s vertebral column and brain and are classified as ‘Neural Tube Defects’. Encephalophele, spina bifida and anencephaly are the most common NTDs.
Folate also plays a key role in preventing the baby from other health defects at the time of birth like autism, cleft palate, cleft lip, and cerebral aneurism. A study conducted recently by University of California, Davis led to the finding that pregnant women who regularly took natural foods containing folic acid were less vulnerable to give birth to babies diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). These women were also at lesser risk of delivering babies with NTDs, their exposure to home pesticides or insecticides (a high risk factor for autism) notwithstanding.
Furthermore, folic acid is also required for the healthy development of the fetus and placenta. This nutrient also helps in the embryo’s cell division and DNA production and its deficiency could hinder the process of development. According to Diane Ashton, MD and deputy medical director for the ‘March of Dimes’, 50% of pregnancies in the US are spontaneous.
Hence, it becomes all the more essential for women in the child bearing age category to take supplements of this vitamin daily to keep themselves (and presumably their unborn babies) out of harm’s way.
How much Folic Acid to take every day?
As per Institute of Medicine’s, CDC’s, the March of Dimes’ recommendations, that pregnant women should take 600 micrograms of the nutrient from a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin or consume one bowl of enriched breakfast cereal containing 400mcg. These institutions also suggested that women in general should take nothing less than 400mcg of the synthetic Folate every day.
Side effects of Folic acid
There are some downsides of consuming the vitamin B9 variant on a routine basis. The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a report mentioning that women taking folic acid in supplement form were at high risk of succumbing to breast cancer. Many researches and studies have pinpointed a link between supplements of Folate and ectopic pregnancy, leukemia, heart problems, and asthma.
Pregnant women should decrease their consumption of the nutrient following the first trimester. From the 2nd trimester till delivery, women can source the vitamin from food items.
Image credit: fotografyarte
Many people don’t realize it, but in addition to the many hormonal and chemical changes that a woman goes through during pregnancy, back pains and challenges are also most prevalent before pregnancy.
Why the back ‘bends’
Throughout the course of pregnancy a woman will begin to (indirectly and sometimes unnoticed at first) lean forward as her lower back muscles and ligaments become weakened by the changes and positioning of the uterus, in combination with the added weight of a growing baby.
The weight of the baby will also cause stress on both a woman’s glutes and hamstrings—which is why Yoga and personal (safe) fitness comes so highly recommended for women during pregnancy of all stages.
In combination with lower back and abdominal pain, the chemical changes of pregnancy also cause muscles to become more ‘relaxed’ or loose, especially the ligaments, and in turn leave a pregnant woman even more susceptible to injury and unwanted risks or weaknesses in many common areas throughout the body, but especially the back.
Where a Chiropractor comes in
While nearly all chiropractors should already be well versed and educated on treating pregnant women and their body, some are more experienced than others. Some chiropractic’s specialize in treating women specifically during and post-pregnancy.
Chiropractors can be trusted to effectively treat and rejuvenate a pregnant woman’s physical health and help alleviate pains through reputable forms of treatment.
These treatments range from stretching exercises, back, leg, neck, and arm adjustments—all the way to the massaging and loosening of key trouble areas during pregnancy such as the quadratus lumborum and piriformis muscles.
These muscles play vital roles in flexibility and mobility, and again with the added weight of a baby inside of you, it becomes more and more difficult, as well as straining, to complete one’s daily routine in such condition without strengthening and recovery exercises.
Chiropractors aim to treat muscle pain and help manage it right at its source through soft tissue exercises and conditioning.
For pregnant women, this often originates around the uterus during pregnancy. In fact, that’s why there are so many common cases of pregnant women with sacroiliac joint troubles or pubic symphysis.
These conditions not only worsen on their own if left untreated, but can also pose both a great challenge and threat to your pregnancy.
A woman wants to be physically as strong as possible, and in the best shape before going into labor. Her muscles, ligaments, and uterus muscles should all be well prepared for the incredible high velocity of pain, stretching, and challenges that it will soon undertake.
Why Pregnancy and Chiropractic’s go Hand-in-Hand
One of the biggest and understandably most credible reasons that chiropractic treatment is popular amongst pregnant women is due to its more or less ‘holistic approach’. Although some basic machines or mechanisms for stretching the body or simple (OTC) topical medications might be applied, in comparison to other standard medical professionals, chiropractor’s approach treating people in general, but especially pregnant women, with the utmost ‘holistic’ or natural, safe, and easy approaches and treatment for pain management and prevention.
Image credit: Edyta Pawlowska