Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B vitamin that works to help the body maintain and produce new cells. Everyone needs folic acid. It is especially important for ALL women who are able to get pregnant to have sufficient folic acid supplementation. Taking a multivitamin with folic acid is recommended, even if you don’t plan on getting pregnant and/or are using birth control.
Why? Over half of all pregnancies in the United States are NOT planned, which leaves 51% of all pregnancies at risk of birth defects of the brain and spine that can happen in the very early stages of pregnancy, often before pregnancy is known. Folic acid supplementation is an easy intervention that can prevent major birth defects and promote a healthy pregnancy. For these reasons, every woman of childbearing age (15-45 years old) needs a multivitamin with 400 mcg of folic acid every day!
Most standard multivitamins have at least 400mcg of folic acid; check the label on the bottle to be sure. An over-the-counter generic multivitamin, in addition to a balanced diet, will provide assurance that the woman is obtaining adequate amounts of essential nutrients and of folic acid.ˡ Help spread the word to promote the public health of childbearing women, as 50-70% of neural tube defects can be prevented with adequate folic acid supplementation PRIOR to pregnancy.
Source: ˡwww.beforeandbeyond.org; The National Preconception Curriculum and Resources Guide for Clinicians