Folic Acid

Definition - What does Folic Acid mean?

Folic acid is a type of B vitamin essential to healthy cell growth and development. Pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant are advised to take folic acid supplements to prevent miscarriage and birth defects.

FertilitySmarts explains Folic Acid

Folic acid is essential to every human body body; it is responsible for the creation of new, healthy cells. In a fetus, folic acid promotes the production of red blood cells, and supports brain and spinal cord development. A shortage of folic acid during pregnancy is proven to cause numerous diseases and conditions, called neural tube disorders (NTD), including spina bifida, cleft lip or palate, and low birth weight. It also contributes to pregnancy complications.

Folic acid that occurs naturally in food is called folate. Foods naturally rich in folic acid include:

  • Leafy greens
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Legumes, including beans, peas and nuts
  • Fruits
  • Citrus and orange juice
  • Other grocery store items may contain synthetic folic acid, including enriched cereals, grains, and breads.
Most pregnant women need 600 mg per day of folic acid. Since is it difficult to attain that amount through food alone, folic acid supplements are advised to ensure enough is ingested on a daily basis. Folic acid is typically included in standard prenatal vitamins
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