What is folic acid?
Folic acid is a B11 vitamin, also known as vitamin B9 outside of the Netherlands. Folic acid can be found in many types of food such as fresh vegetables, fruit, potatoes, whole-wheat products and dairy. If you eat a varied diet, your diet supplies enough folic acid. However, at the start of your pregnancy you need extra folic acid which your diet alone cannot provide. A pregnant woman would have to eat 50 whole-wheat sandwiches a day, or 5 kilos of potatoes. To make sure you have enough folic acid, you should take Folic Acid supplements.1
Taking folic acid supplements from 4 weeks before conception and through to 12 weeks after conception significantly lowers the chances of your baby developing neural tube defects (spina bifida) by up to 70%. A dosage of 0.4-0.5 mg folic acid tablets will not harm mother or child. This dose will also not be harmful should you take them for months on end. Even if you do not immediately become pregnant, you should continue to take folic acid supplements every day.2
Ask your chemist or general practitioner if you would like more information on the side effects of folic acid supplementation. Or read the leaflet supplied with the packaging.