Folic acid helps the body produce and maintain new cells, including red blood cells, and it is important for proper brain function and mental health. Folic acid supplementation may help to reduce the risk of certain health conditions such as birth defects, cancers, heart disease, and stroke.
Folic acid supplementation is recommended to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs) in infants, which are birth defects that affect the brain, spine, or spinal cord. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is essential for proper fetal development, and taking folic acid supplements before and during pregnancy can reduce the risk of NTDs by up to 70%.
It is generally safe and recommended to take folic acid every day, particularly for women of childbearing age and for individuals who may have a higher risk of folic acid deficiency or certain medical conditions that may require supplementation.
The recommended daily folate intake for most adults is 400-600 micrograms per day, although higher doses may be recommended for certain individuals.
Although they are both B vitamins, vitamin B-12, and folic acid are not the same nutrients.
Vitamin B-12, also known as cobalamin, is important for proper nervous system function, the production of red blood cells, and DNA synthesis. Folic acid, also known as folate, is important for cell growth and the formation of red blood cells, and folate deficiency can lead to anemia.
The timing of folic acid dietary supplements may depend on your individual needs and health status. In general, it is recommended that women of childbearing age take a folic acid supplement every day, even if they are not planning to become pregnant, to reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs) in infants.
Folic acid supplementation may also be recommended for individuals who are at a higher risk of folic acid deficiency or who have certain medical conditions that may require additional supplementation. These may include individuals with malabsorption syndromes, certain genetic mutations, or certain medications that interfere with folic acid absorption.