Folic acid is a synthetic form of folate (vitamin B9) that our body cannot produce.
We need folic acid to make new cells and produce DNA. It is required for normal growth and development throughout our life.
Why is folic acid important during pregnancy?
Taking folic acid is particularly vital before and during pregnancy because:
- It may help prevent birth defects including serious neural tube defects
- It significantly decreases the risk of congenital heart defects
- It may help prevent cleft lip and cleft palate
How much folic acid do you need?
- Women who plan to become pregnant or who are of childbearing age need to take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily
- All pregnant women should take at least 600 micrograms of folic acid daily
Can you get enough folic acid from foods?
There is no guarantee that you will get enough folic acid from food alone, so a supplement is important.
However, folate can be found in many foods including:
- leafy greens
- Fortified cereals or pasta