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Folate, or, in its synthetic form, folic acid, is a B vitamin that has miraculous powers for a pre-pregnant woman. It helps prevent neural tube defects (NTD), serious abnormalities of the brain and spinal cord. "One of the best things you can do to ensure a healthy baby is to make sure you are eating a healthy diet, with plenty of folate-rich foods, before you get pregnant," says Bethany Thayer, M.S., R.D., director of wellness programs and strategies at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. Studies show that if all women consumed the recommended amount of folic acid before and during early pregnancy, up to 70 percent of all NTD could be prevented. The best way to guarantee you're getting enough folate is to take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid, and eat a diet rich in folate-full foods like the following.
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