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Thinking about pregnancy? Take folic acid now

folic acid

The first thing any woman of reproductive age can do to start a healthy pregnancy is take folic acid before becoming pregnant.

Many women have the misconception that folic acid, or prenatal vitamins, should be started after pregnancy has commenced. However, it’s during the first few weeks of a pregnancy that the developing fetus relies on folic acid for proper closure of the neural tube. Often, women don't know they are pregnant for several weeks after conception. Sometimes, by the time a pregnancy is confirmed, the window of greatest benefit from folic acid has passed.

Many over-the-counter vitamins contain adequate amounts of folic acid for women of reproductive age. For example, the popular multivitamin “One A Day Women's” contains 400 mcg of folic acid, which meets the recommended minimum for pregnant patients. We believe now that your body can actually store more folic acid than was previously thought. Therefore, the first thing you can do to begin a healthy pregnancy is to take a folic acid supplement daily, long before you become pregnant.

About Matt Voth MD

Matt Voth, MD, is an OB/GYN with Ascension Medical Group in Wichita, Kansas.