Although the recommended amount of folic acid for all adults is 400 mcg a day, many doctors recommend higher amounts for women who are able to get pregnant. This is because folic acid plays a big role in preventing birth defects.
Women who don't get enough folic acid before and during pregnancy are more likely to have a child born with a birth defect, such as:
If you're breast-feeding, getting this extra folic acid will make sure that your baby gets the folic acid he or she needs to stay healthy.
Here's an odd fact: The man-made form of this vitamin is actually absorbed better by our bodies than the natural form is. So even if a woman eats a well balanced diet, she may not get the extra folic acid she needs to prevent birth defects unless she also takes a supplement.
It can be hard for women to get extra folic acid from food. So experts say that all women who are able to get pregnant should take a daily supplement that has 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid.2
Some women need even higher doses.
Women who are pregnant with twins or more should take 1000 mcg a day.3
Women who have a family history of neural tube defects, who have already had a baby with a neural tube defect, or who are on medicines for seizures should take 4000 mcg a day. 4