Folic acid is a member of the B complex family. The Government`s Chief Medical Officers advise that all women planning a pregnancy should take a 400ug folic acid supplement daily from the start of trying to conceive until the 12th week of pregnancy. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a fatty acid important for the development of the foetal and infant brain.
The basic mechanism of action underlying folic acid is its role in cellular division and DNA synthesis.
Without folic acid cells do not divide properly. Folic acid promotes nervous system development of the foetus and for healthy red blood cell production. Folate is also required for the regeneration of methionine from homocysteine and plays a key role as a ‘methyl-donor’.
Docosahexanoic acid (DHA) is a highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid that forms part of the central nervous and visual system structures. DHA is synthesized from its precursor, alpha-linolenic acid that is also an omega-3 fatty acid and can be obtained from vegetable oils. Marine organisms, especially fish, are good nutritional sources of DHA and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA), another omega-3 fatty acid that has a role in vascular health. DHA increases membrane fluidity, improving neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and the activity of retinal photoreceptors. The fetus has high DHA requirements particularly during the last trimester of pregnancy.
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