Folic acid works for you and your family!

Maximize your energy potential: Take folic acid. Remember, folic acid is a necessary nutrient that supports your body’s needs for energy, growth and development. Your body requires folic acid for cell growth and reproduction, fundamental building block processing and genetic material production.

Take folic acid for your children!

Whether or not you already have kids or are thinking about having children, you should make sure you get enough folic acid every day. Take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day and eat a healthy diet. Research has found that the folic acid found in vitamin form or man-made form is easier for your body to absorb and use than the natural version, folate.

All women should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day and eat a healthy diet to maximize energy production, growth and development. If all women of childbearing age took 400 mcg of folic acid, the incidence of neural tube defects, like spina bifida, in the United States would decrease by 70 percent. Give yourself and your family the gift of life: Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms folic acid every day!

If you or someone in your family has a history of neural tube defects (NTDs), you need to take more folic acid when planning a pregnancy. Be sure to take the time to talk with your doctor about taking folic acid. Some women require a folic acid intake of 4,000 micrograms one month prior to becoming pregnant and during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. Ongoing check-ups with your doctor are recommended during pregnancy.

NTDs are a group of serious birth defects of the brain and spine that occur before most women are even aware that they are pregnant. The most common NTDs are spina bifida and anencephaly. While scientists don't completely understand how folic acid prevents birth defects, there is plenty of evidence that it does. That’s why the standard recommendation is for all women to take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid every day.

Take folic acid for your family!

Some research indicates that sufficient folic acid intake in men and women may protect against heart disease, stroke and certain kinds of cancers. Be proactive: incorporate rich folic acid sources into your family’s daily routine!

Folic acid isn’t just for women of childbearing age: Men, children and seniors need it too. Children need less folic acid than adults. The recommended daily dietary allowance for children ages 1 to 13 is between 50-300 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. Once a young female begins menstruating, she’ll need to bump up her intake to 400 micrograms a day.

Men should also get 400 micrograms of folic acid or folate from food every day. Folic acid is needed to make new cells in the body no matter your gender or age. Your body continues to make new cells for your body, including your skin, blood, hair and stomach. Folic acid may be important for men’s reproductive health and has been associated with higher sperm counts and density.**

Folic acid also has been associated with reducing the risk for some chronic diseases. Some studies show that higher levels of homocysteine (pronounced hoe-moe-SIS-teen), an amino acid found in the blood, may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. By helping to reduce the amount of homocysteine, folic acid may help lessen the risk for heart disease. Although research has not conclusively confirmed that folic acid can lower the rates of serious diseases, studies so far have shown promising results.1

It’s also important for seniors to get all the nutrients they need, including folic acid. Check with your health care provider before taking over-the-counter pills, such as a multivitamin, folic acid pill or herbal supplement. In rare cases, folic acid intakes greater than 1,000 micrograms per day may delay the diagnosis of a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can cause serious problems with nerve function if undetected. This 1,000-microgram ceiling only applies to folic acid from vitamin supplements or fortified foods. Most supplements only have 400 micrograms of folic acid, but you should look at all of your sources of folic acid. This, however, does not apply to the folate you get naturally from folate-rich foods. That’s because the folic acid in supplements and fortified foods is more easily absorbed by the body compared to natural food folate. It’s a good idea to have your doctor test you for a vitamin B12 deficiency before you start taking folic acid supplements.2

More information can be found here: Fact sheet on folic acid and neural tube defects (PDF)

Sources:

  1. Wallock, L. M., Tamura, T., Mayr, C. A., Johnson, K. E., Ames, B. N., and Jacob, R. A. (2001). Low seminal plasma folate concentrations are associated with low sperm density and count in male smokers and nonsmokers. Fertility and Sterility. 75(2):252-259.

  2. Florida Folic Acid Coalition, http://www.folicacidnow.net/seniors.htm

Revised: March 15, 2012

This web site is designed for informational use only; it is not designed to give advice, diagnose, cure or treat any medical condition you may have. If you have any questions about your health, please contact your health care provider.