Prep for a Healthy Pregnancy: Folic Acid Duration

Alright, let's talk about prepping for pregnancy! Whether you're already pregnant or just thinking about trying, taking folic acid is a key ingredient in having a healthy baby. But how long should you be taking it? And what exactly does it do?

Prep for a Healthy Pregnancy: Folic Acid Duration

What Is Folic Acid and Why Do You Need It?

First things first—what even is folic acid? Don't worry if you don't know the answer to that question; I didn't either until I was knee-deep in fertility research (and by "research," I mean Googling random phrases like "baby-making nutrients" and hoping something would stick).

In any case, here's what you need to know: folic acid is a B vitamin that helps your body make new cells. This includes everything from making DNA to creating red blood cells to building up tissue like skin and hair.

But when it comes to pregnancy, there's one big reason why folic acid gets so much attention: it can help prevent certain birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects. These are serious conditions that can impact a baby's development long-term, so anything we can do to reduce the risk is worth considering.

How Much Folate/Folic Acid Do You Need?

So now that we know why folic acid matters so much during pregnancy (spoiler alert: because it helps keep your baby healthy!), let's dig into some specifics.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all women who are able to get pregnant take 400-800 micrograms (ug) of folate/folic acid every day before conception and throughout early pregnancy.

Why such a range? Well, different people absorb folate differently. Plus, factors like age, weight, and health status can affect how much folate someone needs overall.

Don't forget though, more is not always better. Taking excessive amounts of folic acid can actually mask a vitamin B12 deficiency, which can lead to nerve damage if left untreated.

When Should You Start Taking Folate/Folic Acid?

When it comes to prepping for pregnancy, timing is key. Ideally, you should start taking folic acid at least one month before you conceive (or as soon as possible once you find out that you're pregnant).

This gives your body a chance to build up its stores of folate/folic acid in preparation for the rapid cell growth that happens during pregnancy.

How Long Should You Take Folate/Folic Acid During Pregnancy?

Alright, so now we know what folic acid is and how much we need. But how long do we have to keep taking it? Is this something we need to be doing for the full nine months of pregnancy or just until baby arrives?

The short answer: experts recommend taking folic acid through at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, when your baby's neural tube is forming and developing.

However, some women may benefit from continuing to take folic acid beyond this point, especially if there are certain risk factors involved (more on that below).

What Are Some Risk Factors That Might Mean You Need More Folate/Folic Acid?

Like I mentioned earlier, every person absorbs folate/foric acids differently—and there are other factors that can impact how much someone needs overall.

Here are a few risk factors that might mean your doctor recommends higher doses:

  • A family history of neural tube defects
  • A previous pregnancy affected by birth defects
  • Certain medications or medical conditions (like celiac disease) that interfere with nutrient absorption
  • Obesity

While most women will be perfectly fine with around 400 micrograms/daily dose throughout their entire pregnancies—some women may require more than others.

Bottom line: talk with your OB/GYN about your specific needs to make sure you're taking the right amount of folic acid for a healthy pregnancy.

Can You Get Enough Folate/Folic Acid From Food?

In an ideal world, everyone would get their daily dose of essential vitamins through perfect nutrition alone. But as we all know, life doesn't usually work out that way!

Folate can be found in lots of different foods like:

  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Avocado
  • Legumes (like beans and lentils)
  • Fortified grains/cereals

That being said, it can still be tough to get the full recommended amount from food alone. And since folate is so important during early pregnancy (when many women don't even realize they're pregnant yet), most doctors recommend supplementing with a prenatal vitamin just to be safe.

But hey—if you're already knocking back spinach smoothies on the reg, more power to ya! Keep up the good work.

Benefits beyond preventing birth defects

Even after having achieved conception and moved past neural tube formation stage, Folates role is not over yet. It continues throughout fetal developmentprocess aiding in proper organ functioning leading eventually a healthy birth outcome.The proteins needed neurodevelopmental process are also fortified by this necessary nutrient.Numerous studies have linked increase folate intake in maternal dietary intake especially before conception with reduction preterm delivery instances.Other associated benefits include stabilizing glucose levels amongst expectant mothers which significantly beneficial medical effects on baby's growth trajectory.

Risks Associated With Too Much Folic Acid: Why More Isn’t Always Better

Naturally occurring folate when consumed at high dosages does not pose any major health risks but excessive consumption synthetic form folic acid may lead cause unintended consequences.In addition masking certain deficiencies including B12,the excess amounts might interfere causing seizures,affects respiratory system,enlargement one's liver and ulcers among other adverse conditions. A better approach would be moderated consumption than being overzealous on dosage.


Folic acid should always have a place in our to-do lists well before conception and throughout pregnancy until at least the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Because even if you're not planning for a baby right now, it's never too early to start prepping your body for a healthy future! So don't forget to add some leafy greens into your diet or better still grab supplements from any pharmacy near you before setting off plans for commemorated parenthood journey.

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