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What is folic acid?
Why is it important for me?
- In pregnancy, a deficiency of folic acid can increase risk for neural tube (spinal cord) defects.
- It’s also important in red blood synthesis and thus the prevention of anemia.
- Folic acid is also important to many other normal bodily functions.
How much do I need?
- An average diet gives approximately 250 micrograms per day; however these requirements are increased to around 400 micrograms per day in pregnancy.
- If you’ve ever had a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD), you need 10x the usual recommended dose. That is 4000 micrograms (or 4 milligrams) per day.
- If you are planning on conceiving, you should start taking a prenatal vitamin or folic acid 1-2 months before conceiving. This is especially important if you’ve had a child with an NTD in the past.
How do I get what I need?
- If you’re pregnant, any prenatal vitamin (over the counter or prescription) will have more than enough folic acid.
- Leafy vegetables: spinach, broccoli, asparagus, turnip greens, etc.
- Legumes: peas, beans, lentils