Why Folic Acid Is Important for Women

Folic acid supplement recommended for women who may become pregnant

(RxWiki News) The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is doubling down on its recommendation that women who could become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement.

That's because folic acid supplementation has been found to help prevent major birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects. The USPSTF looked at new research on this subject to update its 2009 recommendations.

Past research has revealed around 75 percent of nonpregnant women ages 15 to 44 did not consume the daily recommended amount of folic acid to prevent neural tube defects. Folic acid is found in leafy greens, beans, some fruits, fortified breads and other foods, as well as in over-the-counter supplements.

Neural tube defects can often occur in the first couple of months of pregnancy. That's partly why the USPSTF is recommending that all women who are planning to become pregnant or are capable of becoming pregnant take a daily supplement containing 0.4 to 0.8 milligrams (400-800 mcg) of folic acid at least one month before conception

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking a new supplement.

These USPSTF recommendations were published in JAMA.

Information on funding sources and potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.