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Folic Acid (Folates)

Folic acid, one of the B vitamins, is important for the normal development of an unborn child (fetus). Folic acid and its closely related compounds, folates, are needed for the production of red and white blood cells and platelets, the formation of genetic material (DNA) in cells, and growth.

Only a small amount of folic acid is stored in the body. So to avoid a deficiency, you must get folic acid regularly from the foods in your diet. Folic acid is found in foods such as liver, kidney, yeast, fruits (bananas, oranges), leafy vegetables (spinach), eggs, whole wheat bread, lima beans, and milk.

Taking supplements of folic acid before and during pregnancy can reduce the chance of having a baby with birth defects, such as spina bifida.

Last Revised: December 18, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Joseph O'Donnell, MD - Hematology, Oncology

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