A healthy diet during pregnancy promotes the proper growth and development of the fetus. However, a lot of attention should be paid to the intake of some nutrients. Such is, among others, folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, which many people may also know as vitamin M - the vitamin that protects the fetus.

The importance of folic acid

Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for all humans. It plays an extremely important role in the functioning of genetic material (DNA), in the formation of new cells, and in the integrity of the stomach, intestinal system, and oral mucosa.

It got its name as a fetal protective vitamin because it helps prevent neural tube closure disorders (open spine, brain and skull deficiency) that may develop during the first trimester.

It is important to distinguish between folate and folic acid.

Folate is present in a natural form in certain foods, while folic acid is an artificially produced form of folate, which is used to enrich some dietary supplements and foods.

In some cases, folic acid deficiency may develop in the body. One of the most common reasons for this is insufficient intake, which can be caused by inadequate, incomplete nutrition. Certain intestinal diseases (tumor, inflammation), intestinal surgery, enzyme deficiency, excessive alcohol consumption and some medications can damage the absorption of folic acid.

A healthy adult needs 300 micrograms of folic acid per day, but during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the recommended daily dose is 400-800 micrograms.

Being a water-soluble vitamin, the body does not store it, but this does not mean that it can be taken into our body in unlimited quantities.

More than 1000 micrograms of folic acid per day can have harmful consequences. It can mask the symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency, interfere with the interaction of certain drugs, and reduce the utilization of zinc.

The name folic acid comes from the Latin word folium, which means leaf. It can also be concluded from this that the highest proportion of folic acid is primarily found in green leafy vegetables, such as sorrel, lettuce or spinach. But of course it also occurs in many other vegetables. Such are Brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans, asparagus, carrots, lentils, chickpeas, green peas, avocado, tomato juice.

Many fruits also contain a lot of folic acid, such as oranges, grapefruit, blackberries, raspberries, apricots. In addition, chicken liver, yeast and foods enriched with folic acid (e.g. muesli, cereal) are also good sources.

  • Half a cup (95 grams) of spinach has 131 micrograms
  • Half a cup (89 grams) of beans has 90 micrograms
  • Asparagus 4 pieces (60 grams) 89 micrograms
  • Orange 1 small piece (96 grams) 29 micrograms
  • Hazelnuts 1 handful (28 grams) 27 micrograms

It is worth knowing that folic acid is a light-sensitive vitamin, so it starts to degrade after long storage. It is also sensitive to sustained heat, so when preparing food, try to cook the vegetables for as little time as possible, and eat them raw if possible, but thoroughly cleaned.


Countless delicious recipes can be prepared from the above foods. Feel free to experiment in the kitchen, this is often how the best ideas come to fruition. For breakfast or lunch, make hummus with baby spinach or boiled beetroot, spread on a slice of whole grain toast. Grate a small piece of raw beetroot into your breakfast porridge.

For lunch or dinner, cook broccoli, green pea cream soup or lentil soup, sprinkled with toasted seeds. For the second course, prepare a green salad with salmon and avocado, a lentil or bean salad with grilled asparagus and feta cheese. The many possibilities are really only limited by our imagination.

In the video below, we present the recipe for eggplant rolls filled with spinach and spicy ricotta.

An excellent dish for lunch or dinner, which, in addition to being tasty, is also an extremely good source of folic acid.

Critical developmental processes in fetal life begin as early as day 15, when the expectant mother is often not yet aware that she is pregnant. Therefore, it is worthwhile to start taking adequate folic acid approximately 3 months before conception, thus ensuring that the mother's body is supplied with releasable folic acid from the first moment of pregnancy.