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Importance of Folic Acid

What is Folic Acid and Why is good for me?

Folic Acid is…

  • A type of “water soluble” B-Vitamin required by the body for several functions including the growth, production, and repair of cells in your body.
  • The natural form of Folic Acid is Folate and it can be found in fruits and vegetables.
  • Folic Acid can be found in vitamins, minerals, and fortified grains and cereals.

Folic Acid is good for me because…

  • Your body needs folic acid daily at least three months prior to and during the first three months of pregnancy to help prevent neural tube birth defects like Spina Bifida.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have done studies that show that taking the recommended amount (400 micrograms or 0.4 milligrams) of Folic Acid daily can reduce the risk of having a Spina Bifida affected pregnancy by 75%.
  • Women who have had a previous Spina Bifida affected pregnancy have a 3-5% risk of having a second affected pregnancy and are recommended to take a mega dose of 4000 micrograms or 4 milligrams of folic acid daily.

Spina Bifida occurs within the first 28 days of pregnancy, which is before most women even know they are pregnant. In Kentucky, 60% of pregnancies are unplanned, so it is important to get into the habit of taking a multivitamin or folic acid supplement daily, even if you do not plan to get pregnant. Some ways to help incorporate this into your daily life are to take the folic acid vitamin or supplement when…

  • You brush your teeth (morning or evening) or wash your face
  • With your coffee, breakfast, lunch, or dinner
  • When you feed your dog or cat
  • You can place the bottle next to your car keys, purse, on your dresser or bathroom sink to help remind you to take it as your getting ready


Folic Acid Intake in Perspective…

Unlike most vitamins, the synthetic form of folic acid is easier for your body to process than natural folate found in foods. In order to get the daily recommended amount of 400 micrograms daily you would have to eat…

  • 200 medium red apples
  • 44 ½ medium ripe tomatoes
  • 17 ½ cups of orange juice
  • 19 ½ cups of raw green beans
  • Or 14 ½ cups of raw broccoli

Even if you eat right, it is nearly impossible to get the recommended amount of folic acid from your diet! Taking a vitamin is easy and a good way to make sure you’re getting all of your nutrients, including folic acid.

Although research has shown that mothers who take folic acid prior to becoming pregnant have a reduced risk of Spina Bifida, many people who have taken folic acid still have babies with Spina Bifida, and many people who did not take folic acid still have healthy babies. Because no one knows the cause of Spina Bifida, we do not know how to fully prevent it.