Taking folic acid both before and during pregnancy is important. This can prevent birth defects of the spine and brain (neural tube defects). A supplement may also be helpful if you drink alcohol often. You may want to use a folic acid supplement if any of the following is true for you:
- I am a woman of childbearing age.
- I am planning to get pregnant.
- I rarely eat green leafy vegetables, dried beans, or lentils.
- I rarely eat cereal and whole grains (wheat germ, brown rice, whole-wheat bread).
- I often have more than one drink of alcohol a day.
If you take folic acid
Here are some tips to help you get the most from a folic acid supplement:
- Read the label to be sure the product won't expire soon.
- Choose a supplement that provides 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid.
- Store the supplement in a cool, dry place, away from sun and heat.
- Eat a healthy diet to get all the nutrients your body needs.