Everyone needs folic acid, but it’s especially important for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor can help you figure out how much folic acid is right for you. You may need more than 400 mcg folic acid if you have a health condition or are taking certain medicines.
Getting enough folic acid is important even when you aren’t planning to get pregnant. It’s needed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.
How can I get enough folic acid?
Getting enough folic acid every day is easy. You can eat foods like breakfast cereal or bread that have folic acid added. Or you can take a vitamin with folic acid.
Look for breakfast cereal with folic acid.
Check the Nutrition Facts label on the side of the box to see how much folic acid the cereal has. Choose cereal that has 100% DV (Daily Value) of folic acid.
Take a vitamin with folic acid.
You can take a multivitamin or a small pill that has only folic acid. Vitamins and folic acid pills can be found at most pharmacies and grocery stores. We like Vitality Multivitamin and Mineral—it’s formulated with 24 essential nutrients and 200% DV. It comes in formulations for women, men, prenatal and 50+.
Check the label.
When you are at the grocery store, look for foods with folic acid in them. Choose cereal that has 100% DV of folic acid.
Folic acid is also in foods like enriched breads, pastas, and other foods made with grains. Check the Nutrition Facts label.
If you buy vitamins, be sure to check the label for folic acid. This label shows a vitamin with 100% DV of folic acid.
If you take a vitamin, make it easy to remember.
- Take it at the same time every day. For example, take it when you brush your teeth in the morning or when you eat breakfast.
- Leave the vitamin bottle somewhere you will notice it every day, like on the kitchen counter.
Eating healthy means getting plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and foods with protein. A healthy diet also includes foods with folate (a different type of folic acid).
In addition to eating cereal that has 100% DV of folic acid or taking a vitamin, it’s important for women to eat foods with folate, such as:
- Spinach and other leafy greens
- Oranges and orange juice
- Beans and peas
|Beef liver, braised, 3 ounces||215||54|
|Spinach, boiled, ½ cup||131||33|
|Black-eyed peas (cowpeas), boiled, ½ cup||105||26|
|Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV†||100||25|
|Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, ½ cup†||90||23|
|Asparagus, boiled, 4 spears||89||22|
|Spaghetti, cooked, enriched, ½ cup†||83||21|
|Brussels sprouts, frozen, boiled, ½ cup||78||20|
|Lettuce, romaine, shredded, 1 cup||64||16|
|Avocado, raw, sliced, ½ cup||59||15|
|Spinach, raw, 1 cup||58||15|
|Broccoli, chopped, frozen, cooked, ½ cup||52||13|
|Mustard greens, chopped, frozen, boiled, ½ cup||52||13|
|Green peas, frozen, boiled, ½ cup||47||12|
|Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup||46||12|
|Bread, white, 1 slice†||43||11|
|Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce||41||10|
|Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons||40||10|
|Tomato juice, canned, ¾ cup||36||9|
|Crab, Dungeness, 3 ounces||36||9|
|Orange juice, ¾ cup||35||9|
|Turnip greens, frozen, boiled, ½ cup||32||8|
|Orange, fresh, 1 small||29||7|
|Papaya, raw, cubed, ½ cup||27||7|
|Banana, 1 medium||24||6|
|Yeast, baker’s, ¼ teaspoon||23||6|
|Egg, whole, hard-boiled, 1 large||22||6|
|Vegetarian baked beans, canned, ½ cup||15||4|
|Cantaloupe, raw, 1 wedge||14||4|
|Fish, halibut, cooked, 3 ounces||12||3|
|Milk, 1% fat, 1 cup||12||3|
|Ground beef, 85% lean, cooked, 3 ounces||7||2|
|Chicken breast, roasted, ½ breast||3||1|