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Information About Folic Acid

What is folic acid?
It is a B vitamin that women should take if they might become pregnant.

Why should I take it?
Folic acid is important if you may soon become pregnant or you are in the early weeks of pregnancy. It can help to protect your unborn baby against birth defects of the spine and brain, like spina bifida or "open spine."

How much folic acid do I need?
The Institute of Medicine and the March of Dimes recommend that you consume 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid every day. You should not take more than 1,000 micrograms unless your doctor or a health care provider tells you to.

Where do I get it?
Good natural sources of folic acid include orange juice, green leafy vegetables and beans. Fortified breakfast cereals and all enriched grain products contain the synthetic form of folic acid, which the body absorbs more effectively. The only sure way to get the recommended amount of folic acid is to eat a healthy diet and take a multivitamin supplement every day.

When should I take it?
Your never know right away when you are pregnant. Sometimes weeks can go by before you know. But you and your baby need folic acid most during the period that starts one month before you conceive through the early weeks of pregnancy. So taking one multivitamin a day now (even if you are not pregnant) can reduce the risk of some birth defects if you become pregnant soon.


See your doctor or health care provider NOW if you are pregnant or planning to be.

(The March of Dimes,


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