Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin and is used for preventing and treating low blood levels of folic acid (folic acid deficiency), as well as its complications, including “tired blood” (anemia) and the inability of the bowel to absorb nutrients properly.Folic acid is also used for other conditions commonly associated with folic acid deficiency, including ulcerative colitis, liver disease, alcoholism, and kidney dialysis.

Folic acid helps prevent neural tube birth defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord.Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. Because about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it’s recommended that any woman who could get pregnant  take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continuing for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

a prenatal vitamin should  include:   

  • 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
  • 400 IU of vitamin D.
  • 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
  • 70 mg of vitamin C.
  • 3 mg of thiamine.
  • 2 mg of riboflavin.
  • 20 mg of niacin.
  • 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • 10 mg of vitamin E.
  • 15 mg of zinc.
  • 17 mg of iron.