This Version Posted: November 13, 2019

Women who could become pregnant need to eat folate-rich foods and have a daily multivitamin with 0.4 mg of folic acid.

Did you know that half of all pregnancies in Canada are unplanned? Having 0.6 mg of folate daily will help prevent you from having a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD). The defect occurs before most women know that they are pregnant. NTDs are serious birth defects, such as spina bifida. Tissues that normally surround the brain and spine do not fully develop. You need 0.6 mg folate daily for at least one month before pregnancy and during the first 10 to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

What about supplements?

Folic acid is the name for the form of the vitamin found in supplements and fortified foods. To get the recommended 0.6 mg of folate daily, you must take 0.4 mg of folic acid from a multivitamin supplement. Your pharmacist can show you the best kind.

Folic acid should not be taken in a dose higher than 1 mg daily because it can hide signs of vitamin B12 deficiency. Only take one multivitamin daily because taking more than 10,000 IU (3,300 RE) of vitamin A puts you at risk to have a baby with a birth defect.

Have more questions about folate?

Talk to your health care provider, pharmacist or call one of our Healthy Families nurses at 1-866-888-4577.