Why "get folic?"
Folic acid is a B vitamin that is essential for proper
growth and development. Folate is the natural version of
this B vitamin found in foods such as green leafy vegetables,
orange juice, beans and lentils. Although some foods are
fortified (have extra folic acid added), it is difficult
to get enough folic acid from food alone.
Studies show that if you take folic acid before you
get pregnant, you reduce the chances of having a
child with birth defects of the brain and spinal cord (neural
tube defects). Spina bifida is the most common neural tube
defect. However, once you realize you are pregnant, it
is usually too late to prevent these birth defects as the
baby's brain and spinal cord have already passed important
stages of development.
Because almost half of all pregnancies are not planned,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Institute
of Medicine recommend that all women, who have started their
menstrual cycles, take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid
a day - the amount found in most multivitamins. If cost is
a factor, buying a store brand multivitamin or just folic
acid tablets costs less than a penny a day.
North Carolina, along with northern China, Mexico, and Ireland/Wales,
has one of the highest rates of neural tube defects in the
world! If all women in North Carolina took a multivitamin
with folic acid daily, this rate could be decreased by up
to 70 percent!
Growing evidence suggests that taking folic acid daily may
prevent a variety of health problems at all stages of life.
It may help prevent some cancers such as breast, cervical
and colon cancers and it may help prevent heart disease and
stroke. Low levels of folate in the body have also been linked
with Alzheimer's disease.
NC Preconception Health Campaign
County Directory - WIC offices around the state
of Dimes - Information on Folic Acid
Council on Folic Acid
For more health information, search MedlinePlus
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Last updated: February 2014