General Enquiries 03455 211 811
Support Helpline 03455 211 300
Fundraising 03455 211 600

What is folic acid?

Folic acid, known as folate in its natural form, is one of the B-group of vitamins. Folate is found in small amounts in many foods. Good sources include broccoli, brussel sprouts, asparagus, peas, chickpeas and brown rice.

Other useful sources of folic acid include fortified breakfast cereals, some bread and some fruit (such as oranges and bananas).

Folic acid helps your baby’s spine develop. Your baby’s spine starts to grow very early in pregnancy – often before you know you are expecting. This means it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough folic acid if you are planning to get pregnant, or could fall pregnant by accident.

Why is folic acid important?

Folic acid has been proven to reduce the number of pregnancies affected by a neural tube defect of which spina bifida is the most common.

Taking folic acid prior to conception can also reduce the risk of other congenital anomalies (such as congenital heart defects, urinary tract anomalies, oral facial clefts, limb defects). (De-Regil LM et al, 2010).

How much do I need?

Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin, which means you need it in your diet every day because it can't be stored in the body.

Most people should be able to get the amount they need by eating a varied, healthy and balanced diet. Adults need 0.2 mg a day and that can normally be achieved through a varied and balanced diet.

However, if trying for a baby, or if you could fall pregant, the NHS recommend that females should take a daily 0.4 mg (400 microgram) folic acid supplement from the time you stop using contraception and are trying to conceive, until the 12th week of pregnancy. As 50% of pregnancies are unplanned SBH Scotland recommend that all females who could fall pregnant take a daily folic acid tablet as part of your daily routine.

Some females have an increased risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect and they need a higher dose of folic acid.

What happens if I take too much?

Folic acid is a water soluble vitamin which is not stored in the body and therefore any ingested folic acid which is not needed is simply excreted out of the body. Prolonged intake of large doses of folic acid can make a particular type of anaemia more difficult to diagnose but this is very uncommon in women of child-bearing age.

If you have further questions please don't hesitate to contact us.

Find out about other ways we can help you plan your family here.

Are you getting enough - An SBH Scotland campaign

SBH Scotland's lobby for the fortification of flour

Our latest news

Scottish stars get ready to wow at Strictly Come Prancing
Strictly Come Prancing has launched - find out what our star couple are most excited about in our new film

Clackmannanshire Mum Inspired by Daughter as she Tackles Charity Triathlon
Congratulations to SBH Scotland board member Kirstie who raised over £1000 for SBH Scotland last week at the Stirling Super Sprint

SBH Scotland get invited to Dreamnight at the Zoo!
Blair Drummond Safari welcomed members of SBH Scotland for an exciting after-hours experience

More news
Follow @SBHScotland on Twitter

SBH Scotland on Facebook

Our newsletter

We’d like to keep you up-to-date with information on our charity.

Sign up here for our newsletters.

* indicates required
Loading