What is Folic Acid and When Do I Take it?by Laura Driver
Folic acid is very important for the development of a healthy baby as it can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
It's recommended that all women while trying to get pregnant and up to a year before conception, take 400 micrograms of folic acid while they're trying to get pregnant and during the first trimester when the baby's spine is developing. This dose may need to be increased to 5mg if your BMI is 30 or above, so consult your GP for their recommendation if you are trying to conceive.
If you haven't taken folic acid supplements before getting pregnant you should start taking them a soon as you find out you are pregnant.
Folic acid is found in leafy green vegetables, brown rice, granary bread and breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid. You should try to eat plenty of these foods during pregnancy but they are not enough alone - the only way to make sure you're getting enough folic acid is by taking a supplement.
Higher doses of folic acid are needed if;
- You or your partner have a neural tube defect or a family history of neural tube defects
- You previously had a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
- You have diabetes
If any of the above apply to you, your GP will prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Your midwife or GP may also recommend additionally screening test during pregnancy. You can also pick up some Folic Acid from high street pharmacies such as Boots (affiliate link).