What is the benefit of folic acid supplementation in early pregnancy?

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Taking folic acid supplements at the time of conception and in early pregnancy may prevent neural tub defects -- problems with the formation of your baby's spine and brain. Folic acid is the manmade version of folate, or vitamin B9, which is found naturally in foods such as green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and dried beans. In 1996, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published regulations requiring that grain products such as cereals and breads be fortified with folic acid. Eight years later, the rate of neural tube defects in the U.S. had dropped by 25%. Talk to your doctor about your own needs for folic acid.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.