Folic acid is a vitamin your body needs every day to be healthy. It can reduce your risk of some diseases. You need folic acid for the growth and repair of every cell in your body. Hair, skin, and nails grow every day, so you need folic acid every day. If you get pregnant, it can help prevent birth defects of the brain or spine in the baby. But it only helps if you start taking it several months before you get pregnant. That’s why health experts say that all women should take folic acid every day. Then, if they get pregnant this may lower their chances of having a baby with a birth defect.
Studies have shown that up to 70% of all neural tube birth defects can be prevented when people capable of becoming pregnant consume 400 μg of folic acid prior to conception. Folic acid helps a baby’s brain and spine form properly. Certain birth defects of the brain and spine are called neural tube defects. These defects can cause a child to be paralyzed or even cause death. Folic acid also helps prevent birth defects of the heart, lip or mouth. These birth defects happen very early in pregnancy, before you may know you are pregnant. Doctors say that all women who could get pregnant should take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.
Folic acid is in many foods, but it is hard to get enough from your diet. It is better to take a multivitamin every day. Make sure the vitamin has at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. You don’t need a prescription. Your pharmacist can help you find one that doesn’t cost much.