The CDC advises that taking at least 400mcg of Folic Acid during pregnancy in addition to foods that are rich in folic acid, can help to ensure development of a healthy foetus, and to prevent the chances of major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine. A woman can start taking the folic acid as soon as she’s trying to get pregnant, and for at least the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy. Foods that are rich in folic acid include green leafy vegetables, brown rice, cereals, bread, legumes such as beans. It is important to eat foods rich in folic acid during pregnancy, but because it is sometimes difficult to get the right amount of folic acid from foods alone, a supplement that contains at least 400mcg of folic acid can be taken.
Some women may require a higher daily dose of 5mg of folic acid. This may include women or the biological father having a neural tube defect or family history of neural tube defects, a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, women with diabetes, women taking anti-retroviral HIV medication, women taking anti-epilepsy medication.