Pregnancy & folic acid

All about taking folic acid before and during pregnancy

Taking enough folate throughout the pre-conception period, just before and after conception, helps protect your baby against a whole host of congenital deformities, including neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are caused by deformation of the spine (spina bifida), cranium and cerebrum (anencephaly).

The risk of neural tube defects is significantly reduced when a supplement of folic acid is used as a supplement to a healthy diet before and during the first month following conception. Ingesting 400 µg of synthetic folic acid has been suggested to prevent these defects. The daily recommendation or requirement for pregnant women is 600 – 800 micrograms, almost double the recommended daily amount for women who are not pregnant.


Although the level at which folic acid is toxic is not known, there are studies that associate an excess of folic acid in the final trimester of pregnancy with an increased risk of the child developing asthma. Therefore, the recommendation is to take a high dose supplement of folic acid before you get pregnant and during the first trimester, which is when a lack of folic acid would be potentially more serious to your unborn child, with a more moderate supplement being prescribed during the second and third trimester.

At all times you should follow the advice of your doctor or obstetrician regarding the amount to take, as high levels are not recommended.

Although folic acid is particularly important during pregnancy, it is vital for both children and adults to produce healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia. We can get all the folate and folic acid we need from eating foods that contain folate and folic acid.

Foods that are very high in folate and folic acid:

  • Leafy vegetables like spinach, asparagus and greens
  • Beans, peas and lentils
  • Egg yolks
  • Fortified grain products like pasta, cereal and bread
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Liver and kidney.

Certain foods contain moderate levels of folate:

  • Some fruits, like oranges, melon, banana and strawberry
  • Some vegetables, like beets, corn, broccoli and bok choy
  • Beer.

Related articles:

Your comments

Comments (0)

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>Add a new comment:


We recommend