Why do Doctors Recommend Folic Acid for Pregnancy?


Doctors recommend every woman who can reproduce to take about 400 mcg or micrograms of folic acid every day. It is said that folic acid and folate has an impact on your pregnancy. How so? What does folic acid have to do with pregnancy? In this article, you will find answers for every folic acid for pregnancy questions!

Folic Acid for Pregnant Women

What is Folic Acid?

Folic acid is nothing but a man-made form of Vitamin B9. On the other hand, the naturally found variant is called foliate. This chemical is capable of driving our red blood cell counts, treating anemia, managing the cell division, taking care of the development of the baby’s brain and spinal cord during pregnancy. Deficiency of folic acid may result in many harmful effects on everyone. For this reason, WHO has designated folic acid as one of the most essential and safest medicines that helps us maintain our health.

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Some Interesting Facts About Folic Acid

  • Folic acid is one of the forms of B vitamin known as Vitamin B9.
  • This is an essential vitamin, and our body cannot synthesize it. For this reason, you have to take it every day.
  • It is not only helpful for pregnant ladies, but it is also useful for everyone.
  • Folic acid for men can help enhance sperm count.
  • Consuming folic acid during pregnancy can help you evert brain and spinal damages in your baby.
  • Doctors recommend taking folic acid before and during the early stages of pregnancy. So, do not wait until you are pregnant. If you are sexually active, take your dose of the folic acid supplement to have a safer pregnancy.
  • Folic acid is not produced naturally so, people add it in refined grain products like bread and other folic acid foods.

Why is Folic Acid Prescribed for a Woman?

The most important reason why doctors recommend folic acid tablets before pregnancy is that it regulates the growth of the baby’s neural tube into a working brain and spinal cord and avoid major neural tube defects (NTD) and other birth defects. When a woman is at a greater risk of developing pregnancy complications, doctors will recommend folic acid 5mg before pregnancy. This higher dosage is not for everyone, so always make sure to consult your doctor.

Although folic acid is very important for women, it is recommended for everyone. It offers a host of health benefits. For men, it improves fertility with enhanced sperm count. Besides, it improves our red blood cell count and helps in the production of new cells in our body.

Also Read Antibiotics During Pregnancy: Side effects, Risks and Uses

When Should You Start Taking Folic Acid?

Your baby’s brain and spinal cord fully develop in the first month of the pregnancy, which is even before you know that you are pregnant. For this reason, if you are planning on having a baby, the first thing your doctor would suggest is to take folic acid capsules. This will reduce the chances of the premature birth of the baby too! However, in cases of unplanned pregnancy, it is advisable to take the tablets every day to avoid any complications in pregnancy.

How Much Folic Acid Should You Take?

Any woman who is capable of conceiving has to take a daily dose of 400 mcg. In case you are used to taking multivitamin tablets, you should check if it contains the required dose of folic acid in them. If not, you might want to start taking folic acid before pregnancy. Here is a table that explains the dose of folic acid medicine that you can take during different stages of your pregnancy.

Stage of Pregnancy Dosage of Folic Acid
While trying to conceive 400 mcg
First three months into the pregnancy 400 mcg
Four to nine months of pregnancy 600 mcg
During breastfeeding 500 mcg

What are the Benefits of Folic Acid?

Taking folate supplements every day has not only proved to be beneficial for women and the baby growing in their womb, but it is also useful for everyone for the below-mentioned benefits.

  • Protect your baby from neural tube defects like Spina bifida and Anencephaly
  • You can avoid the premature birth of your child and miscarriage
  • Having enough folic acid tablets for pregnancy will also help your child avoid cleft lip and palate, low weight, poor growth in the womb
  • You can even prevent certain types of cancer like lung, breast, pancreas and gut
  • Folic acid can even control the gene expression during the growth in the womb
  • Folate lowers the levels of homocysteine, a harmful amino aid causing heart diseases, in your blood
  • This chemical also controls fertility in both men and women by regulating spermatogenesis in men and egg maturation, implantation, placentation, fetal growth and organ development in women

What are the Risks of Taking Folic Acid?

No matter how good a certain medicine is for you, it always accompanies a set of side effects and so does folic acid. Although folic acid supplements are considered safe, they can harm you in the below-mentioned ways.

  • The most common side effect that women face when they consume folic acid capsules during pregnancy are constipation, bloating, nausea, gas
  • Under the influence of folic acid, your doctor may not notice some serious symptoms caused due to the deficiency of vitamin B12.
  • In case you are accustomed to taking seizure medicines regularly, then you must take care of the dosage of folic acid. High doses may cancel out the effects that seizure medicine has on you.
  • In case you already are diagnosed with cancer, taking folic acid is not a good idea as it will promote cancer cell development.
  • Folic acid conversion happens quite slowly, and due to this, the concentration of the compound increases in your blood leading to poor brain function and immunity system.

Also Read What Causes Constipation During Pregnancy and How to Get Relief

What are Some Folic Acid Rich Foods?

Folic Acid Rich Foods

In case you are reluctant about consuming folic acid supplements, then you can always get it naturally from certain foods. Here is a complete list of the foods that contain folic acid.

  • In refined grain products such as cookies, bread, cakes, cereals, protein bars, white rice, pasta, crackers, cornmeal, energy drinks and more
  • Naturally, you can find folic acid in leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, Turnip greens
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Fruits like papaya, bananas
  • Okra
  • Legumes like beans, lentils, peas
  • Beets
  • Beef livers
  • Artichokes
  • Collard greens
  • Citrus fruits like oranges, lemon, grapefruit, lime
  • Eggs
  • Brussels sprouts


  1. https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid/features/folic-acid.html
  2. https://www.who.int/elena/titles/folate_periconceptional/en/
Vijayalakshmi Naik
Having born and brought up in the beach city of India, Mangaluru, Vijayalakshmi loves to spend evenings watching the sunset behind the wall of rising and falling waters of the Arabian Sea. She believes that great writing ideas pop up in the head when your mind is peacefully transfixed at nature's wonders. When she is not writing on various niches, she can be seen learning new things, exploring new places, and trying new cuisines. Currently, Vijayalakshmi is an SEO content writer's at Medlife.


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