What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a B vitamin. Our bodies use it to make new cells. Think about the skin, hair and nails. These and other parts of the body make new cells every day. Everyone needs folic acid.
Why do you need folic acid?
Folic acid can help prevent major birth defects of a baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects (NTDs). The neural tube is the part of a developing baby that becomes the brain and spinal cord. NTDs happen in the first month of pregnancy, before you may know that you’re pregnant. This is why it’s important that you have enough folic acid in your body before you get pregnant.
Because nearly half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, all women should take folic acid every day. Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day, even if you’re not trying to get pregnant.
How can you get folic acid?
Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it every day. Most multivitamins have this amount but check the label to be sure.
Some foods have folic acid added to them. Look for these words “fortified” or “enriched” on the package label. Foods with folic acid include:
- Breakfast cereal
- White rice
- Products made from a kind of flour called corn masa-like tortillas, tortilla chips, taco shells, tamales and pupusas