What’s all the talk about folic acid?

You may see commercials, public announcements or get a pamphlet from your doctor about taking folic acid. This folic acid message is being broadcasted in many arenas especially in the month of January, which is Birth Defect Prevention Month.

Folic acid is a vitamin important for women of childbearing age. Everyone needs folic acid in their diet, but not taking a supplement or eating food with folic acid during pregnancy could lead to a higher risk of birth defects.

The US Government puts importance on folic acid in the daily diet, for women in particular.  They ordered manufacturers of breads, cereals, rice and pasta to fortify these foods with folic acid.

Females of childbearing age need 400 micrograms (mcg) per day before and during their pregnancy. Since some pregnancies are planned and some are not, all females, teen and older, need to have folic acid in their diet daily. Especially BEFORE a pregnancy occurs. Here are some frequently asked questions about folic acid.

Q: Who Needs Folic Acid?

A: Females of childbearing age

Q: How much does a female need?

A: Female: 400 mcg/day, Pregnant: 600 mcg/day, Lactating: 800 mcg/day

Q: Do I have to take a pill?

A.  You don’t have to, but pills such as One 1 Day: 400 mcg and Centrum Specialist Prenatal: 800 mcg are great options.

Q: Can I eat foods high in Folic Acid instead?

A: Of course! here are some examples of foods high in folic acid.

Orange Juice 1 cup                                                      47 mcg

Fortified Cereal (Total) ¾ cup                                  676 mcg

Grapefruit ½ -4” diameter                                          17 mcg

Broccoli 1 cup frozen, cooked                                   105 mcg

Spinach 1 cup                                                             226 mcg

Asparagus 10 oz package frozen, cooked                  542 mcg

Lentils cooked, 1 cup                                                 358 mcg

Peas frozen- cooked 1 cup                                         47 mcg

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.