How to Get More Folic Acid in Your Diet
January 22, 2021Folic acid is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in pregnancy. Our bodies use folic acid to create new cells, so getting enough folic acid during pregnancy is important for ensuring your baby’s healthy development.1 So how do you get more folic acid in your diet? There are two ways to give your body the folic acid boost it needs: through food or through vitamin supplements.
The Role of Folic Acid During Pregnancy
Folic acid helps the body form healthy red blood cells and reduces the risk of serious neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies.2 Neural tube defects occur when the neural tube (a ribbon-like structure that eventually forms the brain and spinal cord) doesn’t develop properly.3 These defects can occur very early during pregnancy, even before you know you are pregnant, so it is wise to begin increasing your folic acid intake if there is even a chance that you could become pregnant.3
Folic Acid Versus Folate
Although the terms folic acid and folate are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same. Folate is a naturally occurring B vitamin that is found in several different types of foods such as4…
- leafy green veggies (cabbage, kale, and spinach, for instance)
- Brussels sprouts
- sunflower seeds
- fresh fruit
Folic acid, on the other hand, is a man-made B vitamin that is similar to folate but is better absorbed. Folic acid can be found in4…
- fortified breakfast cereals
- other grain products
Folic Acid in Prenatal Vitamins
Vitamin supplements can also contain folic acid. For people who have difficulty getting enough folic acid from the foods they eat, taking a vitamin supplement with folic acid can help give their body the added folic acid it needs. For women of childbearing age, health experts recommend taking a daily vitamin supplement with the appropriate amount of folic acid. Although some individual dietary and nutritional needs can vary, most adult women should make sure their vitamin supplement or prenatal vitamin contains the key ingredients listed below. The amounts in parentheses reflect the daily recommended intake by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists5:
- Folic Acid (600 micrograms)
- Iron (27 milligrams)
- Calcium (1,000 milligrams) *
- Vitamin D (600 IU)
*Most supplements won’t contain this much calcium, so you may need to take a separate calcium supplement or add more calcium to your diet.5
Talk to Your Doctor for More Information
Not all prenatal vitamins are created equal. Make sure you discuss your nutritional needs and family planning goals with your healthcare provider. They can help guide you toward making an educated choice and offer helpful resources.
Prenate® Vitamin Family
This post is brought to you by the Prenate® Vitamin Family, a line of prescription prenatal supplements designed to enhance preconception, prenatal, and postpartum nutrition in women. Talk with your doctor about how taking a daily prescription prenatal or postnatal vitamin could help support a healthy pregnancy and postpartum wellness.