Everything You Need to Know About Folic Acid in Pregnancy

Women need folic acid during pregnancy. It is an important nutrient to prevent several complications for you and your baby.  It is an essential nutrient that is required for DNA replication and several enzyme reactions. Folic acid also p[plays an important role in the production of amino acids and the breakdown of vitamins. 


Your body needs more folate as it is an essential requirement for the growth and development of the fetus. Folate deficiency has been associated with abnormalities in both mothers and fetuses. 

What is folic acid?

It is a vitamin B. You can have it easily through foods like dark, green leafy vegetables. This nutrient is present in the synthetic form.  It reaches your body through multivitamins and foods fortified with folic acid. It was seventy years before when the researchers discovered folate’s importance in preventing anemia.


You should consult your doctor to get recommendations about folic acid intake in pregnancy.

How is folic acid in pregnancy useful?

Pregnant women should take 400 micrograms of folic acid daily. It is also available in folic acid tablet form. Your body needs it whether you are pregnant or trying to conceive. You should continue its usage for at least 3 months afterward. Studies show that this greatly reduces a baby’s risk of serious neural tube defects. Like:

  1. Spina bifida

It is an NTD condition. It occurs when the spinal cord is not properly or completely formed. So it causes significant spinal and nerve damage.


This may develop problems with your baby’s motor and muscular skills. 

  1. Anencephaly

Anencephaly is a severe birth defect involving missing parts in the newborn’s brain or skull.  However, death rates for anencephaly are higher. This is because most babies die inside the womb, while those who survive until their birth also pass away within hours or days.

  1. Encephalocele

Another NTD, encephalocele, is characterized by a sac containing brain fluids or tissues that extends or protrudes outside the skull. It occurs due to an incomplete formation of the neural tube. 


It is a life-threatening situation. It may need surgery as well as life-long treatment for cognitive issues.

  1. Congenital heart disease

It is right that this condition has genetic roots.  It is easy to minimize the risk of this disorder if you take folic acid in high doses. It is helpful to minimize the chance of this disease.

  1. Cleft lips

If a woman gets enough amount of folic acid during early pregnancy, she would have lower chances of having babies with cleft lips.

What is the folic acid dosage in pregnancy?

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also recommends folic acid during pregnancy. It advises pregnant women to take 600 mcg of folic acid daily. Some pregnant women would need more folic acid if they: 

  • have had spina bifida history
  • had a previous baby with spina bifida
  • (or the baby’s other parent) have a family history of neural tube defects
  • have diabetes 
  • are overweight
  • are taking medication for epilepsy

How does folic acid come from food?

You can also get folic acid from foods. Here are some foods rich in this nutrient:

  1. Legume

These are the fruits or seeds of any plant in the Fabaceae family, including:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Lentils


Legumes are a fantastic source of folate, however, the fact that the precise amount can vary.

For instance, 131 mcg, or 33% of the Daily Value (DV), of folate is included in one cup (177 grams) of cooked kidney beans.

  1. Eggs

To get folate from eggs, you can increase its intake in your diet. One big egg contains 22 mcg of folate, which is around 6% of the DV.

You can divide its serving as per your appetite. Egg also provides you with other essential nutrients like: 

  • Protein
  • Selenium
  • Riboflavin
  • Vitamin B12
  1. Leafy greens

These are low in calories.  You get plenty of vitamins and minerals like folate from them.

These vegetables include:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Arugula


You get 58.2 mcg, or 15% of the DV, in one cup of raw spinach. These vegetables also provide fiber, vitamins K and A. So, you get a wide range of health advantages.

  1. Beef liver

One of the best sources of concentrated folate is beef liver.

A cooked beef liver contains 212 mcg of folate per 3-ounce (85-gram) meal or about 54% of the DV.


In addition to providing your daily requirements for folate, one serving of beef liver can also provide you with more copper, vitamin A, and vitamin B12.

  1. Citrus fruits

  • Citrus fruits include:
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Limes

These are sweet and flavorful in addition to being high in folate. One large orange has 55 mcg of folate in it. It is equal to 14% of the DV.


Citrus fruits provide vitamin C in abundance. Pregnant women need vitamin C the more. It is essential to strengthen immunity and promote disease prevention.



The worth of folic acid in pregnancy cannot be ignored. Its importance is evident in several previous and recent researches. Its deficiency may lead to several health issues like spina bifida and other neural tube problems in babies. You can get it through natural as well as supplement forms. 


While there are natural sources to get this nutrient as well. Visit your doctor to discuss your recommended folic acid consumption.


  1. What makes folic acid important in pregnancy?

Its deficiency may lead to the risk of neural tube abnormalities in your child.  These are major birth disorders that can have fatal consequences. It affects the formation and function of the spine, spinal cord, and brain in the baby.

  1. Is folic acid too late for a four-week pregnancy?

It is important to start its use as soon as you learn you are pregnant. You should continue its use until you are 12 weeks along. 

  1. How can you understand your folic acid levels?

Your folic acid status with a blood test is the simple way to understand this. Blood tests for folate mainly measure your folate serum, finding signs of a potential folate deficiency.