Folic Acid: Are you getting enough? (fact sheet)

What is folic acid?

  • Folic acid is a B vitamin found in vitamin supplements. In food, it is called folate.
  • Folic acid helps you make healthy new cells. Early in pregnancy, folic acid helps the baby’s spine and brain to develop. Other benefits of folic acid are healthier hair, skin and nails.
  • Women who do not get enough folic acid have a higher risk of having a baby with birth defects of the spine and brain, commonly known as a neural tube defect.

What foods are high in folate?

  • Folate is in foods such as dark green vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, oranges and fortified grain products.
  • Most women do not get enough folate from food.

How much folic acid do I need?

  • A multivitamin with 0.4 mg of folic acid is recommended every day if you are:
    • a woman who could become pregnant
    • planning a pregnancy
    • pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Some women may need more folic acid, if you have questions, talk to your health care provider.

To learn more

  • Talk to your health care provider
  • Visit: Canada.ca and search folic acid
  • Visit: Pregnancyinfo.ca

Download the alternative format
(PDF format, 104 KB, 1 page)

Organization: Public Health Agency of Canada

Type: Fact Sheet

Date published: January 2017

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