Who should take folic acid?

Coleen  Boyle, PhD, MS
Public Health & General Preventive Medicine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all women of childbearing age (between 15 and 45 years of age) consume 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily to prevent two common and serious birth defects, spina bifida and anencephaly. This is because half of U.S. pregnancies are unplanned and because these birth defects occur very early in pregnancy (3-4 weeks after conception), before most women know they are pregnant.

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Folic acid is essential for men and women of all ages. This B vitamin is found in many commonly eaten foods, but many people do not get enough in their diets. You might need supplements if you have any of the following factors:
  • Alcoholism or alcohol abuse
  • Medicines that interact with folate (for example, anticonvulsants)
  • Anemia (lack of red blood cells)
  • Malabsorption (gastrointestinal tract can’t absorb nutrients from food)
  • Liver disease
  • Dialysis

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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.