Family Planning

The Importance of Folic Acid

While most people recognize that folic acid is important when you’re pregnant, this B vitamin is actually essential for all of us. While it is particularly critical when you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, folic acid supports growth and development in the body – supporting your overall health.

Folic acid can protect against heart disease and memory loss while stimulating hair and nail growth. Before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can help to prevent birth defects, specifically neural tube defects of the brain and spine such as spina bifida – it might also serve to prevent cleft lip and palate and heart defects in babies.

Deficiency of this vitamin can show up in symptoms such as fatigue or weakness, shortness of breath and irritability, among others. Women and men who are not pregnant are generally encouraged to take a multivitamin or supplement with 400 micrograms of folic acid; most prenatal vitamins, then, offer the recommended 600 micrograms to support baby’s healthy development. For children, the recommended dosage ranges between 150 to 400 micrograms, depending on age. Even if you’re not actively trying to get pregnant, a multivitamin with folic acid can protect you in case of an unplanned pregnancy.

While you can find the vitamin in beans and lentils, green vegetables such asparagus and spinach, chickpeas, fortified breakfast cereals, and many fruits and juices, it is challenging to get ample folic acid from your diet alone.

“With folic acid, too much of a good thing a even better thing, so make sure that you are taking the recommended daily dosage,” said Dr. Deb Krahl. “We are always happy to talk with you about vitamins, minerals and other things you can take to support good health.”

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