Pregnancy can be a tough time on your stomach, food intake and energy levels. A healthy balanced diet is imperative, but supplementation, especially folic acid, is also key for a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby.
Dreaming of Baby speaks with Dr. Jacqueline Darna, CEO and Medical Inventor of NoMo Nausea with whom we discussed the importance of folic acid in preventing anemia, and in ensuring a healthy pregnancy.
Daniela: We have with us today Dr. Jacqueline Darna with whom we shall be speaking about the importance of folic acid. Welcome Jacqueline, we look forward to our conversation. Before we start with our discussion, it would be great if you could introduce yourself to our readers.
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: Good morning. Thank you for having me! My name is Jacqueline Darna and as stated I am the CEO and medical inventor of NoMo Products, natural relief for nausea, migraines, and now sleep using essential oil infused acupressure products. I used to practice anesthesia and am better known as Dr. PukeNoMo on Pregnancy Pukeology Podcast. As a naturopathic physician, I am happy to share wisdom and knowledge with regards to folic acid’s role on fertility and other questions that may come up.
What does folic acid do?
Daniela: Thank you for this overview, Jacqueline. As a first question, what is the function of folic acid?
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin that is needed in high concentrations before and during pregnancy. Folate, in its reduced form, is actually used in DNA and red blood cell production. A lack of folate exists when people have an iron deficiency.
How do I know if I have a folate deficiency?
Daniela: Is it easy for someone to know or realize that they are lacking folate?
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: The shorthand answer is no. Usually it is characterized by lethargy (or tiredness), pale skin, and if you go to your primary they will tell you you are anemic, or have too few red blood cells. The problem is anemia isn’t always caused by a lack of folic acid (it could be that you are heavily bleeding, taking medications that thin your blood like aspirin or other NSAIDS), but with more testing we can figure out if you truly have a B vitamin anemia which is inhibiting your body from making red blood cells.
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: “Folate, in its reduced form, is actually used in DNA and red blood cell production. A lack of folate exists when people have an iron deficiency.”
Daniela: Thank you for clarifying that. Since, as you’ve noted earlier, folic acid is needed in high concentrations before and during pregnancy, how can a woman ascertain that she is getting enough and hence lowering her risk of anemia?
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: In pregnancy, we recommend high concentrations of folic acid of 400 micrograms daily, as lack of folate has been associated with neural defects (or problems with the DNA during organogenesis, the creation of organs and most importantly the brain and spinal cord). Serum levels can be checked during blood draws when visiting your OBGYN or perinatologist, but as long as you are taking a prenatal vitamin they all contain at least the recommended amount of folic acid needed. And throughout your pregnancy, your Hemoglobin and Hematocrit will be checked often, detecting anemia rapidly especially prior to delivering.
Dr. Jacqeuline Darna: You can also get great sources of B-vitamins from food like meats, spinach, leafy vegetables, etc.
Nutrient Intake and Morning Sickness
Daniela: That’s very informative, for the mom-to-be experiencing morning sickness (which as we know, would be more aptly known as all day sickness in some cases), how can she ensure that she is still getting enough folic acid, both from food, and supplementation?
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: I honestly think a man came up with the name morning sickness, because it happens all day. Hence why I invented NoMo Nausea to stop me from getting sick with both of my babies.
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: It is important that in getting your prenatal vitamins, whether it be thru pills, shakes, droppers, or additive vitamins in foods, that you identify what you are lacking. It amazes me that you will crave what you need. I never liked mustard until I was pregnant with my son. My feet were cramping all the time, so I started craving mustard on everything. Mustard has one of the highest concentrations of potassium, and that was what I was lacking, so make sure you listen to your body. Now-a-days they make prenatal vitamins in many sources, some entericoated (so you are not burping all day), some as yummy shakes that taste like chocolate (mamalicious was my favorite), and most importantly eat your veggies (the green and leafier the better) because they contain high concentrations of iron, folic acid, and other B vitamins.
Dr. Jacqeuline Darna: “It is important that in getting your prenatal vitamins, whether it be thru pills, shakes, droppers, or additive vitamins in foods, that you identify what you are lacking. It amazes me that you will crave what you need.”
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: Now for my super sick ladies, and even extreme morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum, make sure you are utilizing acupressure on the P6 point on the wrist, and essential oil of peppermint because both will help you keep down the food you just ate. So, keep the food in your tummy and retain the folic acid you need.
Folic Acid Side Effects
Daniela: Well, this is indeed enlightening – especially with regards to the cravings aspect. Looking at the subject from another angle, and to better inform our readers about the complete picture so to speak, what are the side effects – if any – of folic acid?
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: B-vitamins are water soluble meaning that whatever your body doesn’t need you will pee out. Side effects when taken in extremely high doses might cause upset stomach like abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea, confusion, and possibly seizures but again that is in EXTREMELY high doses in a pill form.
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: But, the risk versus benefit falls greatly on the BENEFIT side because clinical data from the University of Rochester Medical Center has shown that proper concentrations of folic acid pre-pregnancy have shown to reduce neural defects like babies born with spinal bifida and encephalopathy by over 60%. So ladies, please take your prenatal vitamins and folic acid supplements pre & during pregnancy.
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: “The risk versus benefit falls greatly on the BENEFIT side because clinical data from the University of Rochester Medical Center has shown that proper concentrations of folic acid pre-pregnancy have shown to reduce neural defects like babies born with spinal bifida and encephalopathy by over 60%.”
Folate levels and mood
Daniela: Thank you for that! I do have a final question if I may and one which you might be able to help with: how do folate levels affect mood? In other words, what is the relationship between folic acid and mood?
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: Besides a feeling of lethargy with a B vitamin anemia, some studies suggest using folic acid and vitamin B12 as a treatment for depression. The B complexes give you that “feel good feeling” and because B vitamins are essential for the production of energy in the Krebs cycle, you may feel a boost of energy if given an adequate amount of B-complex that you may have been lacking.
Daniela: Thank you for your time today Jacqueline and for the precious insight you’ve shared with our readers!
Dr. Jacqueline Darna: Thank you for having me, it was wonderful speaking with you and imparting knowledge on your readers.
Listen to what foods are a great source of B-vitamin in this Pregnancy Pukeology Podcast. NoMo Nausea has been clinically approved to stop 80% of nausea or vomiting naturally and in seconds. Read more about the benefits of acupressure and peppermint in beating morning (all day) sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum.