What are folic acid and folate?

Folic acidFolic acid is the man-made kind of folate, a B vitamin. Folate is found naturally in specific fruits, veggies, and nuts. Folic acid is found in vitamins and strengthened foods.

Folic acid and folate assist the body make healthy brand-new red blood cells. If you do not get enough folic acid, you could develop a type of anemia called folate-deficiency anemia.

Why do I require folic acid?

Everybody requires folic acid to be healthy. However it is especially crucial for females:

• Folic acid secures coming children against severe birth flaws called neural tube flaws. Since about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned1, professionals suggest all ladies get enough folic acid even if you are not trying to get pregnant.
• To keep the blood healthy by assisting red blood cells grow and form. Not getting enough folic acid can lead to a type of anemia called folate-deficiency anemia. Folate-deficiency anemia is more typical in females of childbearing age than in males.

How do I get folic acid?

You can get folic acid in 2 methods.

Through the foods you eat. Folate is discovered naturally in some foods, consisting of spinach, nuts, and beans. Folic acid is discovered in fortified foods (called “enriched foods”), such as cereals, breads, and pastas. Try to find the term “enriched” on the active ingredients list to discover whether the food has actually included folic acid.
As a vitamin. The majority of multivitamins offered in the United States include 400 micrograms, or 100% of the day-to-day worth, of folic acid. Inspect the label to make sure.

How much folic acid do females require?

All women need 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Females who can get pregnant ought to get 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid from a vitamin or from food that has actually included folic acid, such as breakfast cereal.2 This remains in addition to the folate you get naturally from food.

Are some women at risk for not getting enough folic acid?

Yes, specific groups of females do not get enough folic acid each day.4.

pregnant-folic acid

• Women who can get pregnant need more folic acid (400 to 800 micrograms).2.
• Almost one in 3 African-American women does not get enough folic acid each day.
• Spanish-speaking Mexican-American women often do not get enough folic acid. Mexican-Americans who speak English generally get enough folic acid.5.

Not getting adequate folic acid can cause health problems, consisting of folate-deficiency anemia, and issues throughout pregnancy for you and your unborn infant.

What can take place if I do not get enough folic acid during pregnancy?

Your baby is at higher danger for neural tube defects if you do not get enough folic acid prior to and throughout pregnancy.

Neural tube problems are serious abnormality that affect the spinal column, spine, or brain and might trigger death. These consist of:.

• As a result, the nerves that control the legs and other organs do not work. They may also require many surgeries.
• Anencephaly.7 This implies that most or all of the brain and skull does not develop in the womb. Nearly all babies with this condition pass away before or not long after birth.

Do I need to take folic acid every day even if I’m not planning to get pregnant?

Yes. All women who can get pregnant requirement to take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day, even if you’re not planning to get pregnant.2 There are numerous reasons:.

• Your birth control might not work or you may not use contraception properly each time you have sex. In a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Avoidance, practically 40% of females with unintended pregnancies were utilizing contraception.8.
• Abnormality of the brain and spinal column can happen in the first couple of weeks of pregnancy, frequently before you know you are pregnant. By the time you find out you are pregnant, it may be far too late to prevent the birth flaws.
• Due to the fact that it is a water soluble B-vitamin, you need to take folic acid every day. Water soluble means that it does not remain in the body for a long period of time. Your body metabolizes (uses) folic acid rapidly, so your body requires folic acid every day to work effectively.


What foods contain folate?

Folate is found naturally in some foods. Foods that are naturally high in folate consist of:

• Spinach and other dark green, leafy vegetables
• Oranges and orange juice
• Nuts
• Beans
• Poultry (chicken, turkey, etc.) and meat
• Entire grains

What foods contain folic acid?

Folic acid is included to foods that are fine-tuned or processed (not entire grain):

• Breakfast cereals (Some have 100% of the advised day-to-day worth– or 400 micrograms– of folic acid in each serving.)
• Breads and pasta
• Flours
• Cornmeal
• White rice

Given that 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required food makers to include folic acid to processed breads, cereals, flours, cornmeal, pastas, rice, and other grains.9 For other foods, examine the Nutrition Information label on the plan to see if it has folic acid. The label will also inform you how much folic acid is in each serving. In some cases, the label will state “folate” instead of folic acid.

How can I make certain I get enough folic acid?

You can get enough folic acid from food alone. Lots of breakfast cereals have 100% of your suggested daily value (400 micrograms) of folic acid.

If you are at risk for not getting enough folic acid, your physician or nurse might recommend that you take a vitamin with folic acid every day. Many U.S. multivitamins have at least 400 micrograms of folic acid. Examine the label on the bottle to be sure. You can also take a pill which contains just folic acid.

Try a liquid or chewable product with folic acid if swallowing pills is hard for you.

What should I look for when purchasing vitamins with folic acid?

Try to find “USP” or “NSF” on the label when choosing vitamins. These “seals of approval” mean the tablets are made effectively and have the quantities of vitamins it states on the label. Make sure the pills have not expired. If the bottle has no expiration date, do not buy it.

Ask your pharmacist for assist with picking a vitamin or folic acid-only pill. If you are pregnant and already take a day-to-day prenatal vitamin, you most likely get all the folic acid you require. Check the label to be sure.

Vitamin label.

Inspect the “Supplement Facts” label to be sure you are getting 400 to 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.2.


Can I get enough folic acid from food alone?

Yes, many people get enough folic acid from food alone. Some foods have high amounts of folic acid.

Some females, specifically ladies who might get pregnant, may not get enough folic acid from food. African-American women and Mexican Americans are likewise at higher danger for not getting sufficient folic acid each day. Talk with your medical professional or nurse about whether you need to take a vitamin to get the 400 micrograms of folic acid you need every day.

What is folate-deficiency anemia?

When you do not get enough folate, folate-deficiency anemia is a type of anemia that happens. Folate-deficiency anemia is most typical throughout pregnancy. Other reasons for folate-deficiency anemia include alcohol addiction and certain medicines to treat seizures, anxiety, or arthritis.

The symptoms of folate-deficiency anemia include:

• Fatigue
• Headache
• Pale skin
• Aching mouth and tongue

If you have folate-deficiency anemia, your medical professional may recommend taking folic acid vitamins and consuming more foods with folate.

Can I get too much folic acid?

Yes, you can get excessive folic acid, but just from manufactured products such as multivitamins and fortified foods, such as breakfast cereals. You can’t get too much from foods that naturally consist of folate.

You should not get more than 1,000 micrograms of folic acid a day, unless your medical professional prescribes a higher amount. Excessive folic acid can hide indications that you lack vitamin B12, which can trigger nerve damage.10.

Do I require folic acid after menopause?

Yes. Women who have actually gone through menopause still require 400 micrograms of folic acid every day for great health. Speak with your doctor or nurse about just how much folic acid you need.

Are folic acid pills covered under insurance coverage?

Yes. Under the Affordable Care Act (the healthcare law), all Medical insurance Marketplace strategies and most other insurance coverage plans cover folic acid tablets for females who might get pregnant at no cost to you. Contact your insurance supplier to discover what’s included in your plan.

My recommendation: A Simple Guide to Vitamin B5 Deficiency, Treatment and Related Diseases


  1. Finer, L.B., Zolna, M.R. (2016). Declines in unintended pregnancy in the United States, 2008-2011. The New England Journal of Medicine; 374(9):843–52.
  2. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. (2016). Final Recommendation Statement: Folic Acid for the Prevention of Neural Tube Defects: Preventive Medication.
  3. CDC. (2016). Folic Acid Recommendations.
  4. Bailey, R.L., Dodd, K.W., Gahche, J.J., Dwyer, J.T., McDowell, M.A., Yetley, E.A., et al. (2010). Total folate and folic acid intake from foods and dietary supplements in the United States: 2003–2006. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 91(1): 231–237.
  5. Hamner, H.C., Cogswell, M.E., Johnson, M.A. (2011). Acculturation factors are associated with folate intakes among Mexican American women. The Journal of Nutrition; 141(10): 1889–97.
  6. CDC. (2016). Spina Bifida.
  7. CDC. (2015). Facts about Anencephaly.
  8. Mosher, W.D., Jones, J., Abma, J.C. (2012). Intended and Unintended Births in the United States: 1982–2010 (PDF, 404 KB). National Health Statistics Reports; no. 55.
  9. U.S. Government Printing Office. (1996). Food Standards: Amendment of Standards of Identity For Enriched Grain Products to Require Addition of Folic Acid (PDF, 215 KB). Federal Register; 61(44): 8781.
  10. Morris, M.S., Jacques, P.F., Rosenberg, I.H., et al. (2007).  Folate and vitamin B12 status in relation to anemia, macrocytosis and cognitive impairment in older Americans in the age of folic acid fortification. Am J Clin Nutr; 85(1):193–200.


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