Folate is a B Vitamin found in a variety of foods and added to many vitamins and mineral supplements as Folic Acid. Folate is needed both before and during pregnancy to help reduce the risk of certain serious and common birth defects called Neural Tube Defects (Spina Bifida), which affect the brain and spinal cord.
Neural Tube Defects can occur in an embryo before you realize you are pregnant. That is why it is important for all who are planning a pregnancy to begin taking a Folic Acid supplement at least three months before planned insemination.
The U.S. Public Health Service recommends those of reproductive-age and those planning a pregnancy to take: Folic Acid 0.4mg (400 micrograms) daily starting at least three months before conception. This dose of Folic Acid can be found in form of a Vitamin Supplement or Prenatal Vitamin.
Other ways to increase your Folate intake is through diet. Foods rich in Folate include; fortified breads and grain products, fruits, dark-green leafy vegetables, dried beans and peas.
If you have any questions regarding the use of Folic Acid, Diet, Exercise or Life Style, please discuss them with your Primary Care Provider, or your OB/GYN. It is important to begin preparing your body now as you plan your future pregnancy.