Skip navigation and jump to content
Welcome to Ireland's Youth Information Website
Follow us
Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Snapchat

Accessibility Options

High Contrast Text Size

Folic acid facts

Find out all you need to know about Folic Acid


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


Share this article -

Most women have heard of folic acid and think of it as something to take while you are pregnant. Experts say that if you are sexually active and could become pregnant, whether you are planning to or not, you need to take a folic acid supplement every day.

Why take folic acid every day?

The thing is that about half of pregnancies are unplanned. That means, that by the time you might realise you're pregnant it may be too late to help support a baby’s spine and brain development by taking folic acid. A baby’s spine develops fully in the first 28 days of pregnancy. That’s why taking folic acid is essential for at least 3 months before and during the first three months of pregnancy. Taking folic acid every day can help a baby to develop without a neural tube defect (NTD).

If you are sexually active and could become pregnant, whether you are planning to or not, SafeFood recommend that you take a 400 micrograms folic acid supplement every day before pregnancy and during the first three months of pregnancy.

The facts

Folic acid is a vitamin that is essential for everyone’s health and women need extra during early pregnancy. It is a B vitamin called vitamin B9. Folic acid isn’t stored in the body so you need to take it every day.

Taking folic acid can help prevent certain birth defects of the brain and spinal cord, known as neural tube defects (NTDs). Spina bifida is one of the most common NTDs. NTD’S can bring about nerve damage or incomplete brain development in severe cases, causing disabilities. Many of these (up to 70%) could be prevented by taking folic acid.

If you are already pregnant, start taking folic acid straight away and continue each day up to 3 months into your pregnancy.

It’s best to take folic acid as an individual supplement because that ensures that you get the right dose of 400 micrograms a day. Some multi-vitamins may contain 400 micrograms of folic acid but they may also could contain vitamin A, which is not recommended during pregnancy. Check the label. Folic acid supplements are not expensive and can often cost less than a cent, or pennies, a day.

Find out more about pregnancy and nutritional health at SafeFood.eu

Share this article -

Published March 22nd, 2017
Last updated March 23rd, 2017
Tags pregnancy pregnant health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

Need more information?

Request to speak with a youth worker in your area over the phone, by email or text. They may be able to assist you by providing further information specific to your needs.

Youth Work Ireland - Crosscare - YMCA

Contact via: Phone E-mail Text
By clicking submit you agree to our terms and conditions. ​Please note that this service is run by Youth Work Ireland and Crosscare​.​ E​nquiries are not handled by SpunOut.ie directly.
Jump to related articles
Was this article helpful?