Folic Acid Supplements: Why They’re Vital for Preconception Care-image

Folic Acid Supplements: Why They’re Vital for Preconception Care

Folic acid is a vital preconception supplement. But what makes folic acid so important? How and when should you be taking it? We’ve broken down everything you need to know about folic acid for preconception care. Read on to get clued up.

Quick facts:

  • Folic acid is a supplement made from the vitamin folate, a form of vitamin B9. 
  • It’s particularly important for pre-conception and pregnancy because of its role in helping your child’s brain, skull and spinal cord develop. 
  • Folic acid can reduce the risk of neural tube defects by up to 70%. 
  • Certain foods can increase your folate but the body can’t store it, so it’s important to supplement. 
  • Get in touch with our nutritionists for more information.

What is folic acid? 

Folic acid is the man-made version of the vitamin folate, a form of vitamin B9. It is used by our bodies to make new cells and is needed to support the rapid growth of foetal tissues and organs in early pregnancy. 

Unfortunately, our bodies do not store folic acid, which is why we must get our supply from certain foods and supplements.

Why is folic acid important for pre-conception and pregnancy?

Folic acid is important in helping your unborn child’s brain, skull and spinal cord to develop properly. It reduces the risk of potential neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, by 70%. 

Whilst spina bifida is not that common, it can create significant problems for its sufferers that affect everyday life. These include problems with mobility and movement, bladder and bowel problems and learning difficulties. 

Folic acid is also used to:

  • Treat or prevent folate deficiency anaemia – a lack of folate can lead to your body being unable to create healthy red blood cells.
  • Help reduce side effects from methotrexate, a medicine used to treat severe arthritis, Crohn’s disease or psoriasis

When should you start taking folic acid?

The advised amount of folic acid to take daily is 400mcg. However, some people may need a higher dose if they have a higher risk of having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects. 

You may have a higher risk if: 

  • you have diabetes 
  • you or your partner either have or have a history of neural tube defects
  • you have epilepsy
  • you’re a heavy drinker
  • You have a higher BMI 

In these cases, your doctor will be able to advise the correct dosage you should be consuming to keep your child protected.

Which foods contain natural forms of folic acid?

You can also find the natural form of folic acid or folate, in certain foods. Introducing these to your diet will increase your folate levels:

  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • asparagus
  • green peas and chickpeas
  • leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale or cabbage.

However, the amount of folic acid in these foods is often not enough to provide your baby with the best protection, so it is important to add the tablet form to your daily routine too.

Understanding preconception nutrition

If you’re looking for some help understanding your preconception or pregnancy nutrition, you can book a call with one of our Fertility Nutritionists

Our nutritionists will work with you and recommend a personalised nutrition plan for your specific fertility goals, taking into consideration your medical history and lifestyle. Get in touch today if we can help. 


Emily Moreton (Bsc Msc ANutr RN)

Emily Moreton (Bsc Msc ANutr RN)

Emily is dual-trained as both a registered nurse and a registered associate nutritionist, registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and the Association for Nutritionists (AFN). She holds a bachelor’s degree in adult nursing and a Master’s degree in clinical nutrition and public health and is a trained nutrition counsellor. Emily is a non-diet practitioner specialising in women’s health focusing on health-promoting behaviours, empowering clients to improve their health and well-being by leaving the diet mentality behind and improving their relationship with food, movement and their body, whether it be to optimise fertility chances, manage PCOS symptoms or guide you through menopause.

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