Giving babies a healthy headstart in life is one of the greatest gifts a woman can give to her children. Unfortunately, when the time comes to conceive, there is so much focus on how to take seed and lesser on whether the seeds are going to grow in a viable environment. Antenatal care teaches expecting mothers to be healthy during pregnancy. However, much more can be done for babies if mothers have a healthy lifestyle preconception.

The shortage of vaccines currently in the country further emphasizes how important it is for a baby to have a robust immune system. This would reduce their vulnerability to some of these infections that affect neonates and infants. For this reason, it is important that women of reproductive age considering pregnancy do their utmost best to prepare ahead of pregnancy.

Let’s talk pregnancy preparedness! What should you do as an expectant mother? Today’s nutrient of interest is folate/folic acid.

It is advised for women to consume 400mcg of folate daily. This can be met by consuming a healthy diet with folate sources or taking folic acid supplements or both. Folate regulates and improves ovulation thereby increasing one’s chances of conception. It is important for gene formation and helps prevent neural tube defects in the baby as well as folate deficiency anemia.

Sample Meal containing 400mcg folate

2 soup ladles of folate fortified spaghetti + 1 soup ladle of steamed spinach + 1 soup ladle of cut pear + 28g beef liver

Sources of naturally occurring folate; Green leafy vegetables, beans and legumes, oranges, whole grains and cereals

‘Synthetic’ folic acid can be found in fortified foods like rice, bread and breakfast cereals

Naturally occurring folate is unstable and can be easily destroyed by light and heat. It is also water-soluble and so the best cooking method for foods containing folate, especially the vegetables is to steam them instead of boiling to prevent loss of the nutrient in the food.

By Ansaba

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