Why should I take folic acid?
Certain vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, have been shown to have a positive impact on the health of a growing baby.
Folic acid supplements have been shown to dramatically cut the risk of having a baby with spina bifida or other problems affecting the baby's spine and neural tube.
When should I take folic acid?
You are advised to take folic acid every day while you are trying to get pregnant, and for at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy while the baby's spine develops.
How much folic acid should I take?
Most women will be advised to take a 400mcg supplement.
You should also try to eat foods that contain folate, which is the natural form of folic acid. These include:
- green leafy vegetables
- brown rice
- some breakfast cereals.
It is difficult to get the amount of folate that you need from food though so it is very important to take a folic acid supplement.
You will be advised to take a higher dose of 5mg if your baby has an increased risk of having neural tube development problems. The risk increases if you have diabetes or if you or your partner have a history of neural tube defects.
Read all about folic acid and planning a pregnancy here. Check if you're ready to conceive with our pregnancy planning tool.