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Get Enough Folic Acid

woman eating cereal

The Basics

Women of childbearing age (typically ages 11 to 49) need an extra 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day. Folic acid is found in vitamins and foods like breakfast cereals that have 100% DV (Daily Value) of folic acid.

Why is folic acid important?
Everyone needs folic acid in their diet. Folic acid is especially important for women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant.

It’s important to get enough folic acid, even when you aren’t planning to get pregnant. Folic acid is a vitamin that can prevent birth defects. It’s needed during the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she’s pregnant.

How can I get enough folic acid?
There are 2 easy ways to get enough folic acid every day:


  • Take a vitamin with folic acid. You can take a small pill that has only folic acid or take a multivitamin. Vitamins and folic acid pills can be found at most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Talk with your doctor about folic acid.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor can help you decide how much folic acid is right for you. You may need more folic acid if you have a health condition or are taking certain medicines.

Take Action!

nutrition label with folic acid highlighted

Check the label for folic acid.

It’s easy to get the folic acid you need. Just eat a bowl of cereal with 100% DV of folic acid OR take a vitamin every day.

Check the label.
When you are at the grocery store, find foods with folic acid in them. Look for cereals that have 100% DV of folic acid. Check out this list of cereals for some examples.

Folic acid is also in fortified foods like enriched breads, pastas, and other grains. Check the label.

Make it easy to remember.
If you take a vitamin:

  • Take it at the same time every day. For example, take it when you brush your teeth in the morning or with your breakfast.
  • Leave the vitamin bottle someplace where you will notice it every day, like on the kitchen or bathroom counter.

What about cost?
Folic acid supplements (pills) are covered under the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010. Depending on your insurance plan, you may be able to get folic acid supplements at no cost to you.

Talk to your insurance company to find out what this means for you. For information about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit

Eat healthy.
A healthy diet includes foods with folate (a different type of folic acid). In addition to eating cereal that has 100% DV of folic acid or taking a vitamin, it’s important for women to eat foods with folate, such as:

  • Spinach and other greens
  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Beans and peas

Check out this list of foods with folate.

Learn how to get other vitamins and minerals by eating healthy. Learn more ways to have a healthy pregnancy.

Start Today: Small Steps

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Content last updated on: September 27, 2012

National Health Information Center

P.O. Box 1133, Washington, DC 20013-1133