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Get Enough Folic Acid

Photo of smiling women

The Basics

Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects. Women ages 15 to 49 should aim to get 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day.

There are two easy ways to do this:

  • Eat breakfast cereal that has 100% DV (daily value) of folic acid. Check the label on the side of the box. Some examples are Total, Smart Start, Life, or Cheerios Plus. Click here for a complete list of cereals with folic acid.
  • OR

  • Take a vitamin with folic acid. You can take a small pill that has only folic acid or take a multivitamin.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need even more folic acid. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about folic acid.

The Benefits

Take Control – Act Early
Folic acid can prevent birth defects of a baby’s brain or spine if a woman gets enough of it before and during pregnancy. Folic acid is needed during the first few weeks, often before a woman knows that she is pregnant. That is why it’s important to get enough folic acid every day, even when you are not planning to get pregnant.

Take Action!

It’s easy to get the folic acid you need. Just eat a bowl of cereal with folic acid OR take a vitamin every day.

Check the Label
When you are at the grocery store, find foods with folic acid in them. Look for cereals that have 100% DV of folic acid. Check out this list of cereals for some examples.

Folic acid is also in fortified foods like enriched breads, pastas, and other grains. Check the label.

Make it Easy to Remember
If you take a vitamin, take it at the same time every day. Try taking it when you brush your teeth in the morning or with your breakfast. Leave the vitamin bottle on the kitchen or bathroom counter where you will see it.

Eat Healthy
A healthy diet includes foods with folate (a different type of folic acid). In addition to eating cereal that has 100% folic acid or taking a vitamin, it is important for women to eat foods with folate, such as:

  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Orange juice
  • Beans

Click here for a list of more foods with folic acid.

Learn how to get other vitamins and minerals by eating healthy.

What do you want to do today?

  • If you don’t take a multivitamin, write yourself a note to pick some up at the pharmacy.
  • Tell a friend how important it is to take folic acid, especially if she might become pregnant some day.
  • Check out this list of cereals that have 100% DV of folic acid. Find one you like and write it on your grocery list.
  • Send an e-card to encourage a friend or family member to eat healthy foods.
  • National Health Information Center

    P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133