Folic acid, also known as folate, is a B Vitamin (Vitamin B9) and is found in leafy green vegetables, orange juice, beans, lentils, fortified breads, and broccoli.
You should take at least 600 micrograms (0.6 mg) of folic acid starting a month before your pregnancy and for at least the first 3 months of your pregnancy in order to help prevent certain malformations.
A deficiency in folic acid can cause a defect in the development of the spinal cord (neural tube defect). Heart and limb malformations as well as a cleft palate can also occur if you are deficient in folic acid. The neural tube is the embryonic structure that eventually develops into the baby’s brain and spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them.
Normally, the neural tube forms early in the pregnancy and closes by the 28th day after conception. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the spine.
Folic acid, along with all B Vitamins, is water-soluble and will be excreted in the urine if you take too much. There are therefore no known toxic levels.
Green tea can interfere with your body’s absorption of folic acid, therefore intake must be limited, please speak with your doctor about the amount you are permitted to intake. Women with a history of a neural tube defect or other malformations are advised to take 4 mg per day during their pregnancy.
TheraNatal prenatal vitamins contain 1 mg (1000 mcg) of folic acid, along with other essential nutrients recommended while trying to conceive and during pregnancy.