I think I’m pregnant. I’ve heard that folic acid is essential for my baby. What is it and why is it important?
Folic acid is essential for your little one’s brain and spinal cord to develop properly, especially in the first few weeks of pregnancy—when the “neural tube” develops into the brain and spinal cord.
In fact, the March of Dimes recommends that all women who could become pregnant take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid each day. But not all vitamin supplements are optimal for pregnancy. If you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant, ask your doctor's advice about the best vitamin supplement for you.
You also can get folic acid from food sources. Breakfast cereal that’s fortified with 100% of the Daily Value is another way to get your folic acid. Foods that are rich in the natural form of folic acid: oranges and their juice, green leafy vegetables like spinach and turnip greens, dried peas, and beans. Folic acid is also added to most "enriched" breads, cereals, flour, pasta, and rice.
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The START HEALTHY, STAY HEALTHY™ Resource Center panel of experts offers practical advice, answering many questions typically asked by parents and expecting parents.