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Folic Acid

December 23, 2014

What is it?

Folic acid is a B vitamin. It is used in our bodies to make new cells. If a woman has enough folic acid in her body before she is pregnant, it can help prevent major birth defects of her baby’s brain and spine. These birth defects are called neural tube defects or NTDs. Women need to take folic acid every day starting before they are pregnant to help prevent NTDs.

How much is enough? Look for 100%

One easy way a woman can be sure she is getting enough folic acid is to take a vitamin that has folic acid in it every day. Folic acid pills and most multivitamins sold have 100% of the daily value (DV) of folic acid; check the label to be sure. Another way to get enough is to eat a serving of breakfast cereal every day that has been enriched with 100% of the daily value of folic acid. Not every cereal has this amount. Check the label on the side of the box, and look for one that has “100%” next to folic acid.

When to start?

Today!  Every day!

These birth defects happen in the first few weeks, often before a woman finds out that she is pregnant. All women should practice this habit of taking folic acid daily even when they are not planning to get pregnant. For folic acid to help, it needs to be taken every day starting before a woman becomes pregnant.