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Folic acid

Folic acid is one of the B-complex vitamins that is essential for everyone. It is one of the components necessary to make red blood cells, and a deficiency of folic acid can lead to anemia. There are many different brands of folic acid supplements available at like Nature Made and Finest Natural.

Folic acid to prevent birth defects

Women who may become pregnant, even those on birth control, need to take folic acid daily to prevent birth defects. Many spinal defects and brain defects occur in the early stages of pregnancy. In some cases, a woman doesn't even know she is pregnant yet. For this reason, taking folate supplements before pregnancy is vital to help minimize the risk of spina bifida, anencephaly, and other defects. In most cases, a woman who is pregnant will take folic acid supplements with a prenatal supplement at least through the first trimester of pregnancy. Even women who are breastfeeding should take folic acid just in case another pregnancy occurs while breastfeeding.

Considerations when taking folic acid

While it is important for women to get enough folic acid daily, there are some instances when a doctor should be consulted. Any woman who is taking medications for type 2 diabetes, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus may need to take a dose of folate pills that differs from the 400 mcg to 800 mcg usually recommended. People who have kidney disease, liver disease, celiac disease, and sickle cell disease may also need an alternate dose of folic acid pills.