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Folic Acid

Every woman who is sexually active should take a daily multivitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid. 

Eating according to Canada’s Food Guide and taking a multivitamin that has 0.4 mg of folic acid every day will help you prepare for a healthy pregnancy.  This can also reduce the risk to your baby of developing a neural tube defect.
 
What is folic acid?

Folic acid is a B vitamin.  You may also hear it called folate.  Folic acid is important for the developing baby.  
 

Why should I take folic acid?

Folic acid is important for the normal development of the spine, brain and skull of a developing baby, especially during the first four weeks of pregnancy.  When a baby’s brain and spinal cord do not develop normally in the first weeks of pregnancy it is called a neural tube defect (NTD).  This is a serious birth defect that can cause stillbirth or lifelong physical problems.


Is it important to take folic acid before you become pregnant?


Yes.  Folic acid is needed in the early weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows she’s pregnant.  If you are trying or thinking of trying, take a multivitamin with folic acid in it every day.  At the very least, start taking your supplement 3 months before you plan on becoming pregnant.


Do I need to take folic acid if I am not planning on becoming pregnant?


Yes. Any woman who is sexually active and could become pregnant should take a multivitamin containing 0.4 mg of folic acid every day.  Even though you are not planning a pregnancy right now, birth control can fail.  Did you know that almost 1/3 of pregnancies are not planned?  Even if you are not planning on becoming pregnant, it is important to take care of you!
 
Don’t I get enough folic acid from food? 
 
It is hard to get enough folic acid you need from food alone. To make sure you get enough, it is best to take a multivitamin that has 0.4 mg of folic acid every day and follow Canada’s Food Guide. Include foods that contain folate/folic acid as part of your meals and snacks.
Am I following the recommendation if I take folic acid that is not part of a multivitamin supplement?
 
The recommendation to reduce this risk of neural tube defects is for folic acid to be taken in a multivitamin supplement.
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Women need Folic Acid, courtesy of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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Updated Sep 22, 2017