Folic acid — it’s something you’ve heard of, and you know you should get a certain amount of it each day as part of a healthy diet, but do you know why? Or where to get it? Well, we’ve got the answers.
According to womenshealth.gov, folic acid, the manmade form of folate, is a B vitamin that you can get from certain foods. However, most women need to get their recommended amount through a multivitamin. While there is some evidence that folic acid may help heart health and prevent some cancers, it is mostly pregnant women, or women who want to become pregnant, who need to ensure they’re getting the right amount of folic acid on a daily basis. (To learn the daily amount of folic acid that you may need, refer to the chart provided by the National Institute of Health.)
The reason why folic acid is so important for pregnant women or those preparing to get pregnant is that it prevents major birth defects. Folic acid is known to prevent spina bifida and anencephaly (when most or all of the brain doesn’t develop fully) in particular.
Surprisingly, the manmade folic acid found in multivitamins is better absorbed than the natural form, according to WebMD. Nevertheless, it’s still good to eat foods that are high in folate, such as liver, citrus fruits, spinach and other dark greens, in addition to breakfast cereals and breads that are fortified with folic acid.