Folate (form naturally found in foods) and folic acid (synthetic version used in fortifying foods) are forms of the water-soluble B vitamin. (1)
Folate or folic acid intake is important in the period before pregnancy and during pregnancy to prevent neural tube defects. Neural tube defects are birth defects that can occur in your baby’s brain, and spinal cord. Most of these problems occur in the first month of pregnancy, often before you know you’re pregnant.
This is why it is important to get enough folate or folic acid in your diet by eating green leafy vegetables, whole grains and fruits, or by taking a supplement before and after you become pregnant. 400 micrograms/day of folic acid is the recommended daily intake before pregnancy, 600 micrograms is recommended once you are pregnant. (2)
- Wilson, WH, Lowdermilk, P, Maternal Child Nursing Care, 3rd edition, St. Louis, MO, Mosby, 2006, p 305.
- Kleinman, RE, Greer FR, Pediatric Nutrition, 7th edition, Elk Grove Village, IL, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2014, p 1356.