Can folic acid benefit pregnancy?

There are two major benefits of folic acid during pregnancy. First, folic acid helps the body produce the extra blood volume the body needs during pregnancy. Secondly, folic acid plays a role in the prevention of neural tube defects, specifically spina bifida and anencephaly, in the developing embryo/fetus.

Paula Greer
Midwifery Nursing

Folic acid has a direct effect on our building blocks of DNA. Having adequate folic acid in or diet helps us to decrease our risks of developing cancer. It is even more important when we are pregnant as it has been well documented that having adequate folic acid in the diet or in conjunction with supplements will decrease the risk of the baby having neural tube defects like spina bifida. Having enough folic acid in the diet also helps with anemia and taken while pregnant can also decrease the risk of childhood cancer up to the first 6 years of life. Health care providers suggest that women who considering pregnancy take prenatal vitamins with folic acid in them for at least 3 months before becoming pregnant and keep their patients on a good prenatal vitamin with folic acid for the rest of their pregnancy. 

Yes, the pregnancy benefits of folic acid may be among the most valuable. This vitamin is essential for women of childbearing age. It prevents anemia in pregnant women. Folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. These birth defects affect the brain and spinal cord. Folate may protect pregnant women from cancer and stroke. Women should get about 800 micrograms (mcg.) of daily folate or folic acid before getting pregnant. Once pregnant, they should take 1,000 mcg. a day. It’s found in prenatal vitamins. Since 1996, this nutrient has been required to be added to enriched grain products. Neural tube defects have since dropped by 25% in the United States.

Continue Learning about Vitamin B9

Can folic acid (folate) help with oral health?
Stacy Wiegman, PharmDStacy Wiegman, PharmD
Some studies indicate that people with low levels of folate (or folic acid, the synthetic form o...
More Answers
How can I get the right amount of folic acid to prevent birth defects?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
There are two easy ways to be sure to get enough folic acid to prevent birth defects each day:  T...
More Answers
What is the difference between vitamin B9 and other B vitamins?
Neal SpruceNeal Spruce
Vitamin B9 is also known as folic acid or folate, which is the natural form in the body. All the B-v...
More Answers
What Is Fish Oil Used For?
What Is Fish Oil Used For?

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.