Read the main text


Related Topics

Why do I need folic acid?

Back to Pregnancy and childbirth

Folic acid (vitamin B9) is very important to the healthy development of a foetus. It can reduce the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. The Department of Health recommends that all women take a daily supplement of 0.4mg of folic acid before they conceive and for the first twelve weeks of pregnancy while the baby’s spine develops.

Several conditions either increase the need for folate or increase the risk of folic acid deficiency. They include those being treated by anti-convulsant medication, patients on kidney dialysis, or those with conditions such as liver disease, malabsorption or certain types of anaemia.

You can get folic acid tablets from pharmacies, large supermarkets, health food stores and on prescription. Dietary sources of folic acid include green leafy vegetables, breakfast cereals and bread. Check with your doctor first if you are receiving treatment for any condition (such as epilepsy) that may not be compatible with folic acid supplementation.

Further information:

Antenatal care


Go to the page level navigation