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The Importance of Folic Acid

Everyone knows how important adding a daily vitamin is to a well-balanced diet. What many women don’t realize is that beginning a prenatal vitamin regimen when trying to conceive is a necessary component for a healthy pregnancy and baby. Last week, Stephen J. Greenhouse, M.D., of Shady Grove Fertility’s Fair Oaks, VA office, talked candidly with MyDomaine about the effect of one essential prenatal vitamin ingredient, folic acid.

Taking Folic Acid When Trying to Conceive

Dr. Greenhouse said that all women should start taking a prenatal vitamin with folic acid as soon as they begin trying to conceive. He told MyDomaine, “If taken prior to conception, folic acid can significantly decrease the incidence of a birth abnormality called a neural tube defect that affects the spinal cord. Starting a prenatal vitamin regimen once you’re pregnant is too late, as the neural tube has already formed by the time a woman knows she is pregnant.”

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.

Even though you may think you eat a healthy diet, you actually cannot get enough folic acid from your diet alone to achieve this reduction in risk. Women who could become pregnant should take 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid through a prenatal vitamin daily.

Other Important Prenatal Vitamins

Dr. Greenhouse also made the point that taking prenatal vitamins aids in having a healthier pregnancy. Your body always needs to be treated properly regarding nutrients, but when you’re pregnant and supporting a healthy baby, your body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals. Pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and food cravings can make it difficult for you to make healthy food choices, so taking prenatal vitamins helps fill that void.

While increasing your daily intake of folic acid is crucial, you should not overlook other essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, vitamin C, DHA, vitamin D, and iodine.

  • Calcium can help reduce the risk of preeclampsia or high blood pressure during pregnancy. The suggested daily dosage is 1,200 to 1,500 mg.
  • Iron is necessary to increase your blood level supply, in addition to the baby’s.
  • For tissue growth, as well as enhancing the absorption of iron, a daily dosage of 80-85 mg of vitamin C is recommended.
  • DHA is important for fetal brain development during the pregnancy. The recommended daily dosage is between 100 to 300 mcg per day, as well as eating foods like fish, walnuts, and canola oil that contain omega-3.
  • Women who have a higher intake of vitamin D have higher rate of implantation. It is also linked to a stronger immune system and increasing bone health.
  • To help your body produce thyroid hormones, which are needed for a baby’s brain development, iodine is recommended. Women should intake a prenatal vitamin with 150 mcg while pregnant and while breastfeeding.



For more information about preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy through prenatal vitamins and other healthy choices, or to schedule an appointment with one of our reproductive endocrinologists, please contact our New Patient Center at 888-971-7755.

Shady Grove Fertility is a proud partner of Theralogix, which offers high quality, high value, low cost nutritional supplements that patients can trust. Theralogix was established in 2002 by a group of academic and private physicians to facilitate the responsible use of evidence-based, complementary medicine in medical practice. With products independently tested and certified for content accuracy, product purity, and freedom from contaminants, Theralogix sets the standard for evidence-based nutritional supplements. For more information, visit Theralogix online at www.theralogix.com


  1. 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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