What is folic acid?

  • A form of Vitamin B9

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