Folic Acid – Why it's important before and during pregnancy

Published: January 6, 2020

WHA wants to spread the word about the importance of folic acid for women. The first full week of January is Folic Acid Awareness Week. Several national and international health organizations promote this week to increase awareness of the importance of consuming enough folic acid, particularly for women thinking of becoming pregnant and for women who are already pregnant.

Folic acid is a B-vitamin that is necessary for proper fetal cell growth. If taken before and during early pregnancy, folic acid can prevent up to 70% of some forms of serious birth defects of the brain and spine. 

Experts recommend that women considering pregnancy take 400 micrograms of synthetic folic acid daily, by:

  • taking a daily multi-vitamin or folic acid supplement 
  • eating fortified foods like grains, pastas, or breakfast cereals
  • including a variety of foods as part of a healthy diet

The easiest way to be sure to get the recommended daily amount of folic acid is to take a multi-vitamin every day.

Find more info on folic acid from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including how to make a folic acid smoothie. 

You can also find more information on WHA’s Pre-Pregnancy Checklist webpage

For more general information about women’s health, visit

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