Folic Acid Awareness: Here's Why Women Who Are Pregnant or Trying to Conceive Should Take Folic Acid by Dr. Mary Jane Minkin
Anyone who is trying to get pregnant should be taking folic acid. We have known for about 25 years that women who conceive while taking folic acid supplementation definitely decrease their risks of having a baby with a neural tube defect, which should be enough to have every woman take it, no matter what other good things it does.
There has also been some evidence over the years on benefits of decreasing cardiac defects as well. And I always recommend any woman who is sexually active and not using contraception to take folic acid because we know that almost half of the pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned. So if there is any chance of pregnancy, take folic acid.
- Folic Acid Dosage: It is recommended that women take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. While 400 micrograms does seem to be quite helpful, many preparations with 1000 micrograms are quite popular. Women should start taking folic acid at least a month before trying to conceive. Folic acid supplementation is available over the counter, and many women do take prescription prenatal vitamins in advance of conception, too. Vitamins such as OB Complete or Vitafusion have good levels of folic acid.
- Folic Acid for Older Women: Some older women may benefit from taking folic acid. Women who have a variant of certain genes known as MTHFR may benefit by folic acid supplementation. They should check in with their primary care physicians to see if they think this would be of benefit. Again, this is a vitamin that certainly has bone benefits, and studies have also shown it may be beneficial for brain and heart health as well.
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