How Much Folic Acid Is Enough?
Men need 200 micrograms per day of folic acid, and women who cannot become pregnant need 180 micrograms per day of folic acid. If you are a woman who plans to or could become pregnant, you need to eat foods fortified with folic acid. You may also need to take a supplement to be sure you're getting 400 micrograms per day. Once you are pregnant, your intake should be 400 micrograms per day. Breastfeeding mothers need 280 micrograms per day.
Sources of Folic Acid
- Leafy greens such as spinach and turnip greens
- Dry beans and peas
- Fortified cereals and grain products
- Fortified juices
Can You Have Too Much or Too Little?
Folate deficiency can cause diarrhea, anemia, loss of appetite, weight loss, sore tongue and a variety of other symptoms. In a developing fetus, folic acid deficiency may cause birth defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly.
People who drink large amounts of alcohol may need extra folic acid to prevent a deficiency. Sometimes, treatment of anemia with folic acid will mask an anemia caused by a vitamin B2 deficiency. Always consult with your doctor before taking a large amount of any vitamin supplement.
If you want to get the most vitamins possible from your food, refrigerate fresh produce and keep milk and grains away from strong light. Vitamins are easily destroyed and washed out during food preparation and storage. If you take vitamin supplements, store them at room temperature in a dry place thatâ€™s free of moisture.