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If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, your doctor may recommend that you take a folic acid supplement in addition to eating a regular healthy diet.
Women who might get pregnant should get at least 400 micrograms (0.4 mg) of folic acid a day. Experts recommend that women take a daily supplement that has 400 to 800 micrograms.1
Women who are pregnant should get 600 micrograms (0.6 mg) of folic acid a day.2
Women who follow these recommendations are less likely to have babies with certain birth defects, especially neural tube defects.
If a woman had a previous pregnancy with a neural tube defect, her doctor might recommend that she take a higher dose of folic acid during pregnancy.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2009). Folic acid for the prevention of neural tube defects. Available online: http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/uspstf09/folicacid/folicacidrs.htm.
- Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine (2008). Dietary reference intakes (DRIs): Recommended intakes for individuals, vitamins. In LK Mahan, S Escott-Stump, eds., Krause's Food and Nutrition Therapy, 12th ed. St Louis: Saunders Elsevier.
Last Revised: July 23, 2012
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