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Must you take folic acid and vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments daily through­out your preg­nancy?

Q Must I take folic acid and vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments daily through­out my preg­nancy?

A Daily folic acid and vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments are not com­pul­sory dur­ing preg­nancy, al­though they are good for ex­pec­tant mothers, says Dr Ting Hua Sieng, an ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy spe­cial­ist prac­tis­ing at Park­way East Hos­pi­tal.

Folic acid is a vi­ta­min that can help pre­vent neu­ral tube de­fects, which in­volve the in­com­plete de­vel­op­ment of the brain and spinal cord, among other benets.

“If the preg­nant mother is al­ready eat­ing a healthy bal­anced diet, she should have all the folic acid and vi­ta­mins she needs from her diet,” Dr Ting says.

How­ever, ex­pec­tant mothers of­ten have poor ap­petites due to morn­ing sick­ness and other prob­lems. That’s when sup­ple­ments be­come im­por­tant.

The rec­om­mended dose of folic acid for preg­nant women is 1mg daily, ac­cord­ing to Dr Ting. How­ever, tak­ing more is not an is­sue as it is wa­ter-sol­u­ble and gets ex­creted in the urine, she says.

Un­like folic acid and vi­ta­min C, vi­ta­mins A,D, E and K are not wa­ter­sol­u­ble. One should not con­sume too much of these as the ex­cess can­not be eas­ily ex­creted through urine, she adds.

Q Is it true that I should avoid spicy food now as it may trig­ger early labour?

A There is no ev­i­dence to show that eat­ing a par­tic­u­lar type of food will trig­ger labour, says As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Tan Thiam Chye, head and se­nior con­sul­tant at the in­pa­tient ser­vice di­vi­sion of ob­stet­rics and gy­nae­col­ogy at KK Women’s and Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal.

That said, eat­ing healthily be­fore con­cep­tion and through­out preg­nancy is one of the best things you can do for your­self and your baby.

Good nu­tri­tion op­ti­mises the growth and de­vel­op­ment of your baby and, at the same time, safe­guards your own health, he says.

Also, you don’t need to eat specic foods just be­fore giv­ing birth, says con­sul­tant clin­i­cal di­eti­tian Ne­hal Kam­dar.

You should con­tinue to eat a bal­anced diet through­out your preg­nancy. This means eat­ing a va­ri­ety of foods, in­clud­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles for folic acid, vi­ta­mins A and C; fatty sh for do­cosa­hex­aenoic acid (DHA); milk and high-cal­cium foods like cheese and yoghurt; and meat like chicken for iron.

You’ll nd all the food groups in “My Healthy Plate” – a vis­ual tool de­signed by the Health Pro­mo­tion Board (

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