Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential nutrient especially important for pregnant women. It aids in the development of a healthy brain, spine, and skull of the fetus, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. It is suggested that women planning to become pregnant should take 400mcg of folic acid per day to prevent birth defects.

Key Takeaways

  1. Folic Acid is an essential nutrient that reduces the risk of birth defects in the spine and brain, known as neural tube defects, making it incredibly important for mothers-to-be to include it in their diet.
  2. Prenatal vitamins often include Folic Acid, but it can also be found in various foods like leafy greens, citrus fruits, and legumes, emphasizing the benefit of balanced nutrition during pregnancy.
  3. It’s recommended for women who are trying to become pregnant to take a daily supplement of 400 micrograms of Folic Acid starting at least one month before conception and continuing through the first trimester of pregnancy.


Folic acid, also known as folate, is crucial to motherhood due to its important role in the development of the baby’s neural tube, which develops into the brain and spine within the first month of pregnancy.

A deficiency in this B-vitamin can lead to severe birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.

Therefore, health experts often recommend women of childbearing age, especially those who are planning to become pregnant, to take folic acid supplements to ensure they meet the daily recommended amounts.

Further, folic acid has been found to reduce the chances of other defects such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain types of heart defects.

Thus, understanding and maintaining proper folic acid levels plays a vital role in ensuring healthy development and reducing risks in the early stages of pregnancy.


Folic acid, also known as folate in its natural form, plays a crucial role in motherhood as it is indispensable in the process of cell division and the formation of DNA. It is especially significant during pregnancy as it aids in the development of the neural tube of the unborn child. The neural tube is an embryonic structure that ultimately forms the baby’s brain and spinal cord.

Consuming sufficient folic acid before and during pregnancy can help prevent birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine, known as neural tube defects. Apart from helping form the neural tube, folic acid also supports the rapid growth of the placenta and fetus by promoting the development of red blood cells. A folic acid deficiency can lead to conditions like anemia.

Furthermore, folic acid has been found to lower the likelihood of pre-term delivery and gestational hypertension. In addition to its benefits during pregnancy, it’s also useful in the preparation of pregnancy as it helps the body create and maintain new cells, increasing the chances of conceiving. Therefore, women of reproductive age are often recommended to include enough folic acid in their diet or take supplements to ensure they get the requisite amount.

Examples of Folic acid

Pregnant Planning: A woman planning to conceive will typically start taking folic acid supplements beforehand because this vitamin is crucial for the proper development of the baby’s neural tube (which becomes the brain and spine), preventing major birth defects.

Health Drinks: Many prenatal health drinks and juices available in the market today are fortified with folic acid, as its regular consumption during pregnancy contributes to the healthy growth and development of the fetus.

Maternal Diet: Real world diets high in folic acid are advised for mothers, where foods like leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, and whole grains are incorporated, as this nutrient prevents anemia and aids in the synthesis and repair of DNA and RNA.

Frequently Asked Questions about Folic Acid

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is a form of folate (a B vitamin) that everyone needs. For pregnant women, it’s particularly important as it can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

Why is Folic Acid important during pregnancy?

Folic Acid can help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain (anencephaly) and spine (spina bifida). It is recommended that women who are planning or capable of pregnancy take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 mg (400 to 800 µg) of folic acid.

What foods are a good source of Folic Acid?

Folic Acid can be found naturally in many foods including dark leafy vegetables (like spinach and kale), fruit and fruit juices, nuts, beans, peas, dairy products, meat and eggs, seafood, grains etc. Some breads, cereals and pastas have folic acid added to them.

Can you take too much Folic Acid?

Consuming too much folic acid can hide signs that you lack vitamin B12, which can cause nerve damage. The recommended upper limit for adults is 1,000 mcg of folic acid from fortified foods or supplements.

When to start taking Folic Acid during pregnancy?

It is recommended to start taking folic acid supplements before you get pregnant. If the pregnancy is unplanned, start taking folic acid supplements as soon as you find out about the pregnancy.

Can I get enough Folic Acid from food alone?

Although you can get folic acid from food, most women do not get the amount of folic acid they need through food alone. It’s important to take a folic acid supplement or consume a diet high in folic acid plus a multivitamin that contains folic acid.

Related Motherhood Terms

  • Prenatal Vitamins
  • Neural Tube Defects
  • Dietary Supplement
  • Fetal Development
  • Maternal Health

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