Folic Acid Facts

Folic acid, also called folate, is a B vitamin that plays an important role in making healthy new cells for our body. Getting enough folic acid is important for everyone; however it is especially important for women of child-bearing age because it can help prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. 

Folic acid is found naturally in a variety of foods including dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach or romaine lettuce, fruit and fruit juice, nuts, beans and peas. It is also found in fortified foods such as enriched breads, cereals and pasta. Folic acid can also be found in multivitamins and prenatal vitamins. 

So how much folic acid do you need? For both men and women ages 14 and older, the recommendation is 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid/day. Pregnant women need to increase their intake to 600 mcg/day and lactating women need 500 mcg/day. 

To ensure you get enough daily folic acid, make sure to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of folate-rich foods and if you are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you need to take a folic acid supplement. 

Source: National Institutes of Health

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