Why should I take folic acid if I might get pregnant?

You should take 400 micrograms of folic acid (a B vitamin) at least a month before you become pregnant and for the first three months of your pregnancy. If you have already had a child with a neural tube defect, such as spina bifida, a type of birth defect in which the baby's spine doesn't close all the way, you are at a higher risk of having another child with the defect, and therefore, you should take 4,000 micrograms of folic acid (after clearing it with your health care professional) as an extra precaution.
Dariush Mozaffarian, MD
Internal Medicine
Folic acid supplements are necessary if there is a chance you could become pregnant. It's essential that you get enough folic acid to prevent birth defects called neural tube defects, which develop in the earliest days and weeks of pregnancy, when women might not yet know they are pregnant. Because not every pregnancy is planned, most experts suggest that all women capable of becoming pregnant take a daily multivitamin that has at least 400 mcg of folic acid. (Your doctor may suggest taking more than that amount if you plan to get pregnant and have previously had a child with a neural tube defect.)

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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.