Pregnant and nursing mothers require adequate amounts of essential nutrients each day in order to nourish healthy growth and development. The following fact sheets explain what you need, how much, and why.
What Does It Do?
Folic acid is so important for a healthy pregnancy that doctors recommend women start taking it even before conception.
- Folic Acid protects against birth defects.
- Promotes healthy cell division
- Required for a healthy nervous system
- Helps produce DNA and RNA
- Helps the body form red blood cells
How Much Do We Need?
While pregnant it is recommended you get 600 µg of folic acid per day and 500 µg while you are breastfeeding. Since it is difficult to get enough folate from food alone, Health Canada recommends taking a multivitamin containing 400 µg (0.4 mg) of folic acid every day at least 3 months before you get pregnant and continue throughout your pregnancy. Make sure your supplement also contains vitamin B12 and no more than 1 mg (1000 µg) of folic acid unless your physician recommends otherwise. Talk to your doctor or dietitian about which supplement is right for you.
Where Can I Get It?
In addition to taking your multivitamin, make an effort to eat more foods that are good sources of folate such as:
- Beans and Legumes
- Dark green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, asparagus)
- Orange juice
- Fortified cereals
- Enriched whole grain bread
- Wheat germ
- Have legumes, such as beans or lentils, often.
- Eat at least 1 dark green vegetable, such as peas or romaine lettuce, each day.
- Include grain products fortified with folic acid each day, such as enriched bread or enriched pasta. Look for the term ‘folic acid’ in the ingredient list.
- Try our Nutty Banana Smoothie recipe rich in folate.
Related Links:Visit the Public Health Agency of Canada's website on Folic Acid Visit Health Canada's Prenatal Nutrition Guidelines on Folate