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The Importance of Folic Acid

Medical Contribution by Dr. Nancy Durso
Medical Contribution by Dr. Nancy Durso

Everyone knows how important adding a daily vitamin is to a well-balanced diet. And most people are aware that when you are pregnant, you should take a prenatal vitamin. Prenatal vitamins have a higher amount of several vitamins in particular, folic acid and iron. So, what is the big deal about taking folic acid in pregnancy? Dr. Nancy Durso, of Shady Grove Fertility’s Fredericksburg, VA office, explains the importance of taking folic acid when trying to conceive and during pregnancy.

Folic acid is one of the best preventive care measures ever discovered. Folic acid is a B vitamin that can significantly reduce the risk of a fetus developing neural tube defects in early pregnancy. Neural tube defects can cause spina bifida and are the second most common birth defect among women in the United States. The good news is that women who take folic acid supplements have an 80 percent reduction in neural tube defects. Folic acid can also reduce the risk of heart-related birth defects.

Take Folic Acid When Trying to Conceive

All women should start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid as soon as they begin trying to conceive. If taken prior to conception, folic acid can significantly decrease the incidence of the birth defect called spina bifida and other neural tube defects of the spine. Starting a prenatal vitamin regimen once you’re pregnant is too late, as the neural tube has already started forming by the time a woman knows she is pregnant.

Folic acid is found in green leafy vegetables. Eating a healthy diet before and during pregnancy is very important. However, you actually cannot get enough folic acid from your diet alone to achieve this reduction in risk. Women who could become pregnant should take at least 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid in a daily vitamin.  Prenatal vitamins contain at least 800mcg.

Related: Prepare Your Body for a Healthy Pregnancy

Editors Note: This post has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness as of October 2019.


For more information or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nancy Durso, please contact our New Patient Center at 888-971-7755 or fill out this brief form.


  1. Geek squad

    January 22, 2020 - 9:48 am

    Very nice blog and articles. I am really very happy to visit your blog. Now I am found which I actually want about folic acid.

  2. Jackson

    October 17, 2019 - 4:03 pm

    Great article. What are your thoughts on Folate vs. Folic acid when picking a prenatal or supplement?

  3. Sujeet Kumar

    July 26, 2019 - 12:15 pm

    Very interesting article! I really enjoyed reading your article. You are providing the best info about folic acids. Thanks for sharing with us, it’s a very useful to us. You have done a excellent Job. Your writing is very simple and easy to understand. Keep Going..

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    November 19, 2018 - 7:21 am

    Hey, This is a great article. I was searching for the same and I found the best content here. Thanks for sharing the info. keep on doing the great work.

  5. Ovulation Kits

    August 27, 2017 - 6:20 am

    Honestly, I can’t thank you enough for this insightful article. Undoubtedly, folic acid is a must take general healthy body condition, especially during pregnancy when there is a lot of variation in hormonal levels. As a person with much interest and experience in this area, I wish to add and note that it’s advisable not to take more than 1,000 mcg per day of folic acid especially for vegans, unless otherwise instructed. Generally, when breastfeeding, take 400 mcg, 500 mcg (12) during the first three months of pregnancy, 400 mcg during months four through nine of pregnancy 600 mcg. Ultimately, I think I’m moved by your step of enhancing convenience by even providing contacts information for quick access. Thank you.

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