The Chesapeake-Potomac Spina Bifida Association is participating in a National Folic Acid Campaign to educate all women of childbearing age of the importance of taking folic acid to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect pregnancy.

All women of childbearing age (14-50) should take folic acid daily to reduce the risk of a neural tube defect pregnancy. Two-thirds of American women are not getting enough folic acid. Women need to get enough folic acid every day throughout their reproductive years.

What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a B vitamin necessary for proper cell growth and formation of new red blood cells. Taking a daily vitamin supplement with folic acid is important to the normal development of the fetus and preventing neural tube defects. The risk of having a neural tube-affected pregnancy is reduced by 50-70% by taking folic acid daily.

How much folic acid do I need to take daily?
All women of childbearing age should take 400 micrograms (0.4 milligram) of folic acid daily. For women who have already had a NTD-affected pregnancy, the Public Health Service recommends talking with your doctor about taking a much larger amount of folic acid - 4000 micrograms (4 milligrams), starting one month before conception and continuing through the first three months of pregnancy.

How do I get folic acid?
Folate and folic acid are the same vitamin. Folate is found naturally in food. Folic acid is the synthetic form added to vitamins and enriched foods. With your daily vitamin supplement also eat foods rich in folate. Folic acid and folate from the following sources should be consumed daily:

  • Take a vitamin supplement containing 400 micrograms of folic acid daily.
  • Eat fortified breakfast cereals that contain 100% of the recommended daily amount of folic acid.
  • Increase consumption of foods fortified with folic acid - enriched cereals, breads, rice, pasta. Read food labels for good sources of folic acid.
  • Eat foods with folate - orange juice, green vegetables, liver, beans, nuts, lentils.

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