What Is Folic Acid? - Why do women need folic acid?

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Why do women need folic acid?

Everyone needs folic acid to be healthy. But it is especially important for women:

  • Before and during pregnancy. Folic acid protects unborn children against serious birth defects called neural tube defects. These birth defects happen in the first few weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman knows she is pregnant. Folic acid might also help prevent other types of birth defects and early pregnancy loss (miscarriage). Since about half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, experts recommend all women get enough folic acid even if you are not trying to get pregnant.
  • To keep the blood healthy by helping red blood cells form and grow. Not getting enough folic acid can lead to a type of anemia called folate-deficiency anemia. Folate-deficiency anemia is more common in women of childbearing age than in men.