The Pre-Pregnancy Plan

By EatingWell Editors

There’s no baby on board yet—just babies on the brain.

3. Focus on folic acid.

Folate, a B vitamin found in beans, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits, plays a critical role in cell development and growth. Studies suggest that taking folic acid—the synthetic form of folate in fortified foods and supplements—for a month before conception and during the first three months of pregnancy reduces the occurrence of neural tube defects by up to 70 percent. (The neural tube, which develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord, is formed during the first 28 days of pregnancy—before many women are even aware that they’re pregnant.) Get 400 micrograms of folic acid, from fortified foods and/or supplements, in addition to eating a variety of folate-rich foods.

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