- Folic acid is a type of folate, a B vitamin. Only folic acid is proven to help prevent neural tube defects (NTDs), which are severe birth defects of the brain or spine. To help prevent NTDs, the CDC recommends that all women of reproductive age take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid each day, in addition to consuming food with folate from a varied diet. It is easier for the body to form healthy cells using folic acid than using natural food folate.
- Folic acid can be measured in mcg DFE or in mcg (1.67 mcg DFE is the same as 1 mcg of folic acid). Based on this, to prevent anemia, women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding should consume 400 mcg DFE (100% daily value (DV) for folate), which is equal to 240 mcg of folic acid. Because it takes more folic acid to help prevent NTDs than to prevent anemia (low number of red blood cells), 400 mcg of folic acid is recommended to help prevent NTDs, which is equal to 667 mcg DFE (167% DV).
|To Prevent Anemia||400 mcg DFE||240 mcg folic acid||100%|
|To Prevent NTDs||667 mcg DFE||400 mcg folic acid||167%|