What is Folic Acid

Folic Acid Awareness Week – 2014

January 5 through 11th is National Folic Acid Awareness Week. Adequate folic acid intake is important for the prevention of birth defects.

Messages that NCFA wants all women of childbearing age to know:

  • Women can get the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid by taking a daily multivitamin or by eating fortified foods. Check the label of your favorite cereal to see if it has 100% DV (daily value) of folic acid. See http://www.cdc.gov/Features/FolicAcid/
  • Talk with your doctor or midwife about newborn screening before your baby is born. See the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) webpage NBS at http://www.babysfirsttest.org/ from HRSA
  • Every woman should talk to their doctor about their and their partner’s family health history. Sharing your Family Health History can help your doctor identify diseases for which you may be at increased risk. See the CDC information at http://www.cdc.gov/genomics/famhistory/

Nutritional habits

Although all enriched cereals and grain products in the U.S. are fortified with the B-vitamin folic acid, only one-third of U.S. women of childbearing age consume the recommended amount from their diet. Taking a multivitamin with folic acid every day is a key way that women can get the recommended amount of 400 mcg.

Be prepared before pregnancy

Women need folic acid, even if not planning to become pregnant, since 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned. Taking folic acid before pregnancy reduces the risk of birth defects of the brain and spine, called neural tube defects (NTDs), by up to 70%.

Message to the Hispanic community

Hispanic babies are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than others in the U.S. to be born with an NTD. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Latinas in the U.S. consume the least amount of folic acid and have the least knowledge about folic acid among racial or ethnic groups.


National Council on Folic Acid Mission Statement

The mission of the National Council on Folic Acid (NCFA) is to improve health by promoting the benefits and consumption of folic acid