Benefits of Folic Acid for Women
What is folic acid?
Folic acid, a B-vitamin, is the synthetic form of folate used in supplements and in fortified foods. This vitamin helps the body produce healthy new cells.1
What are the benefits of folic acid for women?
While folic acid is important for everyone, it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. During early development in pregnancy, folic acid helps form the brain and spine in the embryo. According to the CDC, all women of reproductive age should get the recommended amount of folic acid each day. Here’s why:
- About 50% of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned.
- Formation of the baby’s brain or spine occur very early in pregnancy, oftentimes before a woman knows she is pregnant.2
- By the time a woman finds out she is pregnant, it may be too late to prevent brain and spine birth defects if she hasn’t been consuming the daily recommended amount of folic acid.1
It’s important to note that when taking folic acid, a higher daily dose than recommended is not advised unless a doctor recommends increasing the dosage.2
Even if pregnancy is not a concern, folic acid is important. Adequate intake supports heart health and the production of healthy red blood cells.3
What are the main sources of folic acid?
Eating foods rich in folate is important but it can be difficult to maintain a diet that meets the daily recommended amount of folic acid. Your doctor may advise taking a daily supplement or multivitamin that contains folic acid as well.
Foods high in folate include:
- Leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
- Citrus fruits and juices
- Beans and lentils
- Foods labeled “enriched” like breakfast foods, breads, flours, pastas, cornmeal and white rice1
By incorporating folic acid rich foods into your daily diet, you’re helping your body work as it should. Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about folic acid if you’re considering pregnancy, whether in the near future or down the road.
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1. Folic Acid Benefits for Pregnancy: What You Need to Know. https://www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=15214316-99fc-4347-b0f7-300b57573b3e/.
2. Folic Acid. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/about.html/.
3. Folic Acid. http://vitaminforlife.org/40.
4. Folic acid. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/folic-acid#.