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Folic acid - the why and where

If you only take one pregnancy supplement, make it this

Posted: 10 December 2007
by ThinkBaby

If you only take one pregnancy supplement then make it folic acid. This vitamin is highly important to the healthy development of a fetus, particularly the developing brain and spine, as it reduces the risk of defects to the brain and spinal cord known as neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. Folic acid is also needed to help the early growth and development of the placenta and helps in the production of the extra blood cells women need when they're pregnant.

Doctors recommend that if you are thinking about having a baby you should start taking a folic acid (vitamin B9) supplement of 400mcg per day - preferably for three months before you try to conceive. But if you're pregnant and you haven't been taking folic acid then don't worry, the most important thing is that you start right away.

Where you find folic acid
To be absolutely sure you're getting at least the recommended amount of folic acid every day it's best to take a supplement. You'll find folic acid supplements in chemists and health food shops, either on its own or combined with other supplements for pregnancy. When you're buying a supplement check that it contains the recommended dose of 400mcg per day.

If you're a cereal eater then you can also look out for cereal fortified with 100% of the daily recommended intake of folic acid (but make sure you then eat the right portion of cereal!)

Folic acid is also naturally found in fruits and citrus juices, leafy green vegetables like Kale and brocolli, beans, nuts, whole-grain breads and whole-grain cereals. Remember that the fresher the source, the better, and that the more you cook food, the fewer nutrients end up on your plate.

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Discuss this story

We are having our third baby in May next year, and I have been taking folic acid for the fist three months. I can't remember whether it is recommended that you take it throughout the pregnancy or just for the first three months?

Thank you for any thoughts!

Posted: 16/11/2006 at 12:37

Hi there
It's a good idea to take if for the first 3 months, and then maybe switch to a pregnancy multi-vitamin which includes safe levels of things like iron, too. Many of these have some folic acid in them, too.
However, after you've taken the folic acid, if you don't find a multi-vitamin that suits you (some find they feel bloated with them), then just concentrate on good nutrition in your general diet.
You can read the blurb that comes with th

Posted: 16/11/2006 at 13:13

Dear Laura

Thank you very much for your advice - I have a multi vitamin that, as you say, has some folic acid in it anyway so I will now take only that. Just to let everyone else know, I also asked my midwife who confirmed your advice.

Thanks again!

Posted: 21/11/2006 at 20:44

i read that you can take folic acid all through the pregnancy especially if your on any other medication?

Posted: 24/11/2006 at 12:43

im on medication for epilepsy and wonder weather to keep taking folic acid or not??

any suggestions??

Posted: 24/11/2006 at 12:45

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